White, horny substance found in the external skeleton of crabs, lobsters, and many insects; in internal structures of some other invertebrates; and in some fungi, algae, and yeasts. It is a polysaccharide, the monomer unit being glucosamine. It is used industrially in purifying wastewater, thickening and stabilizing foods and pharmaceuticals, and sizing and strengthening paper, and as a wound-healing agent, an ion-exchange resin, a membrane for industrial separations, and a binder for dyes, fabrics, and adhesives.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
For the full entry on chitin, visit

Seen & Heard

What made you look up chitin? Please tell us what you were reading, watching or discussing that led you here.

Get Our Free Apps
Voice Search, Favorites,
Word of the Day, and More
Join Us on FB & Twitter
Get the Word of the Day and More