epi·der·mis | \ˌe-pə-ˈdər-məs \

Definition of epidermis 

1a : the outer epithelial layer of the external integument of the animal body that is derived from the embryonic epiblast specifically : the outer nonsensitive and nonvascular layer of the skin of a vertebrate that overlies the dermis

b : any of various animal integuments

2 : a thin surface layer of tissue in higher plants formed by growth of a primary meristem

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Did You Know?

Epidermis includes the Greek prefix epi-, meaning "outer;" thus, the epidermis overlies the dermis, or inner layer of skin. The epidermis itself consists of four or five layers; the outermost layer is made of dead cells, which are being shed continuously. The epidermis acts as a physical barrier—a protective wrap over the body's surface, which, by preventing water loss, allows vertebrates to live on land.

Examples of epidermis in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

For weeks after they were milled, our streets were embarrassingly exposed, the asphalt epidermis gone, but no new skin was applied. John Kelly, Washington Post, "From potholes to perfect pavement: My neighborhood has lovely new streets," 24 June 2018 In addition to the transplant, some of her forearm epidermis was attached to her ear, which covers additional scar tissue around Burrage's left jawline. Matthew Martinez, star-telegram, "Surgeons 'grew' ear on Army private's arm after she was disfigured in horrific crash | Fort Worth Star-Telegram," 9 May 2018 His victory will briefly bruise the delicate epidermis of golf. Tim Layden, SI.com, "Patrick Reed Can't Be Denied as He Bucks Convention to Win at Augusta," 8 Apr. 2018 The squamous cells in the outer part of your epidermis are flat and constantly slough off so new ones can take their place. Rochaun Meadows-fernandez, SELF, "Why Are Black People Less Likely to Get Melanoma But More Likely to Die From It?," 2 Feb. 2018 Of course henna ink is not like a real tattoo, with a needle that injects ink into the second layer of skin, just below the epidermis. Craig Hlavaty, Houston Chronicle, "Woman jokingly got a henna tattoo in Mexico and it's not coming off," 22 Dec. 2017 By a month after the completion of these procedures, the patient had a nearly complete epidermis again. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "The future is here: Genetically engineered stem cells save a patient," 8 Nov. 2017 Basal cell carcinoma arises in the round cells at the base of the epidermis. Kurt Snibbe, Orange County Register, "Why the most common form of cancer is preventable," 1 June 2017 Natural moisturizing factor is a naturally occurring substance primarily made of up amino acids and is typically located in the stratum corneum, which is the topmost layer of the epidermis. Dr. Leslie Baumann, miamiherald, "How to keep your skin moist while traveling," 27 Apr. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'epidermis.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of epidermis

1626, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for epidermis

Late Latin, from Greek, from epi- + derma skin — more at derm-

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The first known use of epidermis was in 1626

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English Language Learners Definition of epidermis

medical : the outer layer of skin


epi·der·mis | \ˌe-pə-ˈdər-məs \

Kids Definition of epidermis

1 : a thin outer layer of skin covering the dermis

2 : any of various thin outer layers of plants or animals


epi·der·mis | \-ˈdər-məs \

Medical Definition of epidermis 

1 : the outer epithelial layer of the external integument of the animal body that is derived from the embryonic epiblast specifically : the outer nonsensitive and nonvascular layer of the skin of a vertebrate that overlies the dermis

2 : any of various animal integuments

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Comments on epidermis

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a state of commotion or excitement

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