chitin

noun

chi·​tin ˈkī-tᵊn How to pronounce chitin (audio)
: a horny polysaccharide (C8H13NO5)n that forms part of the hard outer integument especially of insects, arachnids, and crustaceans
chitinous
ˈkī-tᵊn-əs How to pronounce chitin (audio)
ˈkīt-nəs
adjective

Examples of chitin in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Chitin-eating microbes were predictably clinging to the chitin — but there were also bacteria that didn’t eat chitin. Dan Samorodnitsky, Quanta Magazine, 17 Jan. 2024 In nature, scales of chitin (a polysaccharide common to insects), for example, are arranged like roof tiles. Andrew Cunningham, Ars Technica, 18 Sep. 2023 The team identified chitin in the microfossils' cell walls — the oldest such evidence of the fibrous substance. Gemma Tarlach, Discover Magazine, 22 May 2019 The material also contains chitin, from the insects’ bodies, and leftover organic matter. Sarah Scoles, New York Times, 27 Nov. 2023 The biofertilizer incorporates insect chitin, which the startup claims can stimulate the immune systems of plants. Catherine Wang, Forbes, 27 Nov. 2023 Stomach distention after chitin ingestion activates an innate immune response that triggers stomach cells to ramp up production of enzymes, known as chitinases, that break down chitin. Scott Lafee, San Diego Union-Tribune, 3 Oct. 2023 Researchers found that a particular arm of the immune system is involved in chitin digestion. Scott Lafee, San Diego Union-Tribune, 3 Oct. 2023 Arthropods have an exoskeleton made of a tough material called chitin that is mineralized with calcium carbonate, as well as a body divided into segments and paired jointed appendages. Laura Baisas, Popular Science, 30 Aug. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'chitin.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

French chitine, from Greek chitōn

First Known Use

circa 1839, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of chitin was circa 1839

Dictionary Entries Near chitin

Cite this Entry

“Chitin.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/chitin. Accessed 23 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

chitin

noun
chi·​tin ˈkīt-ᵊn How to pronounce chitin (audio)
: a horny substance that forms part of the hard outer body covering especially of insects and crustaceans
chitinous
ˈkīt-ᵊn-əs How to pronounce chitin (audio)
ˈkīt-nəs
adjective

Medical Definition

chitin

noun
chi·​tin ˈkīt-ᵊn How to pronounce chitin (audio)
: a horny polysaccharide that forms part of the hard outer integument especially of insects, arachnids, and crustaceans
chitinous adjective

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