cryp·​sis ˈkrip-səs How to pronounce crypsis (audio)
: the ability of an organism to conceal itself especially from a predator by having a color, pattern, and shape that allows it to blend into the surrounding environment
Horned lizards have a delightful variety of defenses. Their primary defense is crypsis; their pattern of coloration varies geographically to match the substrate, and their spines obscure their body outlines, making them difficult to see.Jeff Mitton
… legions of tiny fish and shrimps have evolved to live with impunity among these coral tentacles, escaping predators' notice by resembling their hosts, a feat called crypsis.Les Kaufman

Examples of crypsis in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Analyses of fur color and background environments suggest that the giant panda’s white face, nape, dorsum, flank, belly, and rump are adapted for crypsis against a snowy background, whereas its black shoulders and legs are adapted for crypsis in shade. Seriously Science, Discover Magazine, 6 Mar. 2017 An ambusher's arsenal: chemical crypsis in the puff adder (Bitis arietans). Elizabeth Preston, Discover Magazine, 21 Dec. 2015 Dark markings on the head are not used in crypsis, however, but in communication: Dark ears may be involved with signaling intent about ferocity whereas dark eye marks may serve in individual recognition. Seriously Science, Discover Magazine, 6 Mar. 2017 Generally, researchers said crypsis is found in prey species and ambush predators. Lee Roop |, al, 20 Dec. 2022 This phenomenon, known as crypsis, is also responsible for the bold black-and-white coloration of giant pandas, reports the Times. Sarah Kuta, Smithsonian Magazine, 19 Dec. 2022 On the face of it, this is a classic evolutionary story, and a cut-and-dried case: the mantis has evolved to mimic the flower as a form of crypsis — enabling it to hide among its petals, feeding upon insects that are attracted by the flower. James Gilbert, Discover Magazine, 27 Jan. 2015

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

Word History


cryp(tic) + -sis, or borrowed from Greek krýpsis "hiding, concealment," from kryp- (stem of krýptein "to hide, conceal") + -sis -sis — more at crypt

First Known Use

1956, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of crypsis was in 1956

Dictionary Entries Near crypsis

Cite this Entry

“Crypsis.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Apr. 2024.

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