gla·​brous | \ ˈglā-brəs How to pronounce glabrous (audio) \

Definition of glabrous

: smooth especially : having a surface without hairs or projections glabrous skin glabrous leaves

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"Before them an old man, / wearing a fringe of long white hair, bareheaded, / his glabrous skull reflecting the sun's / light...." No question about it—the bald crown of an old man's head (as described here in William Carlos Williams's poem "Sunday in the Park") is "a surface without hairs." Williams's use isn't typical, though. More often glabrous appears in scientific contexts, such as the following description of wheat: "The white glumes are glabrous, with narrow acuminate beaks." And although Latin glaber, our word's source, can mean simply "bald," when glabrous refers to skin with no hair in scientific English, it usually means skin that never had hair, such as the palms of the hands.

First Known Use of glabrous

1640, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for glabrous

Latin glabr-, glaber smooth, bald — more at glad entry 1

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The first known use of glabrous was in 1640

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Cite this Entry

“Glabrous.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Feb. 2020.

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gla·​brous | \ ˈglā-brəs How to pronounce glabrous (audio) \

Medical Definition of glabrous

: having or being a smooth even surface specifically : having or being an epidermal covering that is totally or relatively devoid of hairs or down glabrous skin

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