Green’s Dictionary of Slang

bag of bones n.1

also bone-bag, bone-heap, bonerack, bundle of bones

a noticeably thin person or horse.

J. Marchant Eng. Dict. n.p.: BONY [A.] full of bones; wanting flesh; as when we say a person is worn away to skin and bone, we mean that he is little more than a bag of bones.
[UK]Chester Chron. 20 Dec. 3/2: A poor barber [...] exhibited a scene of distress equal to that of [...] the living bag of bones which represents the monastic porter in the Duenna.
E. Owen Surgical Diseases of Children 67: The subject of congenital syphilis is apt to be of premature birth, and he may be a mere bag of bones.
Mthly Mag. 1 Nov.344/1: And there is now a poor horse [...] literally starving by inches, over his hoofs in mud, without a morsel of clean straw to lie on, and is becoming a bag of bones.
[US]R.M. Bird City Looking Glass I i: Mother Gall! Why I would not send that delightful old bag of bones to jail for all the world.
[UK]Dickens Oliver Twist (1966) 73: There! Get down stairs, little bag o’ bones.
[US]R.H. Dana Two Years before the Mast (1992) 253: Has the old bundle of bones got him at last?
C. Kingsley Saint’s Tragedy IV iii: I am almost ashamed to punish a bag of skin and bones.
[UK]R.S. Surtees Mr Sponge’s Sporting Tour 143: An old bag of bones of a mare.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 2 Apr. 1/2: I may be a bag-o-bones, for the feed as I gets below a’nt to say up to vun’s knees in clover.
[US]W.R. Floyd Handy Andy in Darkey Drama 5 64: You lazy bag of bones, go to work!
R. Vashon Law of Hotel Life 128: [of a horse] He put up his old beast here, and I’ll keep it now till I am paid or till it dies, which latter event will probably happen first to such a bag of bones.
[UK]W.B. Churchward Blackbirding In The South Pacific 9: This old weary bag of bones.
[UK] ‘’Arry in ’Arrygate’ in Punch 24 Sept. 133/1: Why, the boy is a bone-bag!
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 24 Mar. 4/7: I referred to that red-headed bag-of-bones next to her.
[UK]W. Pett Ridge Minor Dialogues 165: There was me, backing the bag o’ bones six times.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 5 Oct. 13/4: Direful indignation was expressed by a virgin bone-bag. [...] The boneful spinster stood 6ft. in her socks, and had the makings of an A 1 Female Sanitary Inspector.
[Can]R. Service ‘The Ballad of the Northern Lights’ in Ballads of a Cheechako 27: A craven, cowering bag of bones that once had been a man.
[NZ]Truth (Wellington) 30 July 5/4: the old bundle of bones had a bad cough.
[US]G. Bronson-Howard Enemy to Society 210: Come over by the fire, old bag of bones, where you belong.
[US]R. McAlmon Three Generations of the Same (1963) 101: Even if I am a bit of a bonebag at my age.
[UK]Breton & Bevir Adventures of Mrs. May 84: You greedy old bag o’ bones, I ’ope that ’addick pisins you.
[US]B. Traven Treasure of the Sierra Madre 94: Stow that, you old bag of bones.
[US]E. O’Neill Iceman Cometh Act I: Harry Hope is sixty, white-haired, so thin the description bag of bones was made for him.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
[US]C. Sandburg Always the Young Strangers 166: We heard him bark at the bonerack, ‘Get up there’.
[US]Kerouac On The Road (1972) 102: He was a bag of bones, a floppy doll, a broken stick.
[UK]L. Dunne Goodbye to The Hill (1966) 153: Her money couldn’t buy her a man she could love, it couldn’t even buy her a bag of bones like me.
[US]K. Kolb Getting Straight 155: It’s pea-brains like you that make some bone-heap the favorite!
[Aus]J. Waten Bottle-O! 58: ‘You’re a wog’s horse,’ he said. ‘You old bag of bones.’.
[Ire]H. Leonard Time Was (1981) Act I: I thought maybe I’d turned into an oul’ bag o’ bones like your woman in that fillum, ‘Lost Whores’.
[US]G.V. Higgins Patriot Game (1985) 92: Himself in the study there, nothing but a bag of bones as he is since he’s sick.
[Aus]J.T. Pickle Aus.-Amer. Dict. 19: BAG OF BONES: A horse you bet that placed last.
F. Cullen et al. Vaudeville Old and New 297/2: Despite a good, if lean, figure, she was almost always costumed to hide her curves and look like a bag of bones.