gla·​brous ˈglā-brəs How to pronounce glabrous (audio)
: smooth
especially : having a surface without hairs or projections
glabrous skin
glabrous leaves

Did you know?

"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).

Examples of glabrous in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Rather than bronzed and glabrous Malibu lifeguards, the striders here are Great Britain’s finest young (male) athletes readying themselves for the 1924 Olympics. Martin Fritz Huber, Outside Online, 13 Dec. 2022 In 100 clean-shaven men direct measurement of the area of glabrous skin on the forehead and calvaria was found to be proportional to that of the hairy skin on the lips, cheeks, chin and neck. Seriously Science, Discover Magazine, 20 Nov. 2014

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

Word History


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

First Known Use

1640, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of glabrous was in 1640


Dictionary Entries Near glabrous

Cite this Entry

“Glabrous.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Feb. 2024.

Medical Definition


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

More from Merriam-Webster on glabrous

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!