Necropsy and autopsy

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Necropsy and autopsy are two words that are sometimes confused. We will examine the definitions of necropsy and autopsy, where these two terms came from as well as some examples of their use in sentences.

A necropsy is an examination of an animal body after death. Strictly speaking, the word necropsy is a synonym of autopsy and may be used to mean the examination of any body after death, including a human body. However, in standard English usage it is primarily used when discussing the examination of an animal. The word necropsy is derived from the Latin root necro- meaning death and -opsis, meaning a sight. The plural form of necropsy is necropsies.

An autopsy is an examination of a human body after death. Autopsy is used in standard English when referring to the examination of a human. An autopsy is performed in order to determine the cause of death, whether from accident, disease or foul play. The word autopsy is derived from the Latin root auto-meaning self, and -opsis meaning a sight. The idea is to see for oneself what has occurred in the body. The plural form of autopsy is autopsies.


Preliminary results from the necropsy of a male humpback on Admiralty Island in Southeast Alaska found signs of hemorrhage, bruising, and a fractured skull—indications of trauma likely caused by a vessel strike. (Alaska Native News)

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said in a statement that a necropsy of the reptile Friday produced evidence “that indicates the victim … was bitten by the alligator.” (>The San Francisco Chronicle)

An autopsy will be performed on the 19-year-old jogger who died after a run Thursday morning in Harker Heights, police officials said on Friday. (The Killeen Daily Herald)

Authorities have completed the autopsy report for Ismael Lopez, the man shot and killed last year by Southaven police officers, who apparently came to his house by mistake. (The Commercial Appeal)