mel·​a·​nin | \ ˈme-lə-nən How to pronounce melanin (audio) \

Definition of melanin

: any of various black, dark brown, reddish-brown, or yellow pigments of animal or plant structures (such as skin or hair)

Examples of melanin in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Cannily placed bumps on its cuticle channel incident light toward melanin-rich patches primed to absorb it. Natalie Angier, New York Times, "Ultra-Black Is the New Black," 11 Nov. 2019 The reason for that is because bleach is removing the melanin in your hair that’s protecting it. Janell Hickman, Marie Claire, "How to Dye Natural Hair Hair The *Right* Way," 27 Nov. 2019 However, not all melanomas produce melanin, so these tumors can be white, tan, or pink, according to the ACS. Maggie O'neill,, "Pro Golfer Justin Thomas Reveals Scar From Melanoma Tumor Removal on Instagram," 13 Sep. 2019 Dermatologists usually recommend salicylic, alpha-, or beta-hydroxy acids as well as retinol to resurface the skin, plus hydroquinone, an ingredient that inhibits the production of melanin. Tiffany Dodson, SELF, "7 Over-the-Counter Products Dermatologists Recommend to Fade Acne Scars," 20 Aug. 2019 The high concentration of melanin is a protection for photo damage. Shalwah Evans, Essence, "Researchers May Have Found The Culprit Behind Black People's Fountain Of Youth," 24 July 2019 This allowed their white male counterparts to continue to climb higher than was logistically possible for anyone who dared enter polite society with a uterus or a higher degree of melanin in their skin. Nick Martin, The New Republic, "The Mayors Fighting for a Progressive Vision of the South," 25 Sep. 2019 In the case of Tira and other pseudomelanistic zebras, Barsh believes the melanocytes are all there, but the melanin itself, for some reason, does not manifest correctly as stripes. National Geographic, "Rare polka-dotted zebra foal photographed in Kenya," 18 Sep. 2019 Ally told the outlet that her sons still produce melanin, showing some pigment in their skin and hair, but only at about 25 percent capacity. Claudia Harmata,, "Arizona Family Moves to Maine to Protect Albino Twins from the Sun," 19 Aug. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'melanin.' 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 melanin

1843, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for melanin

Greek melan-, stem of mélās "black, dark" + -in entry 1, after Italian melaina — more at melano-

Note: The term melaina was introduced in a study of squid ink by the Italian chemist Bartolomeo Bizio (1791-1862), "Ricerche chimiche sovra l'inchiostro della Seppia," Giornale di fisica, chimica, storia naturale, medicina ed arte, decade 2, tomo 8 (1825), p. 105. Bizio formed the word from Greek mélās "black" and aeí "always" because the substance he had isolated retained its color no matter what acid or other potent chemical it was exposed to ("Questo principio animal particolarissimo il fu chiamato così dal greco mélas, nero, ed aeì sempre, che vale materia sempre nera, conciossachè gli acidi, il cloro, e tutto che vi è di più potente, non bastano a mutarlo di colore.")

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Time Traveler for melanin

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The first known use of melanin was in 1843

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Last Updated

23 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Melanin.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 17 January 2020.

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More Definitions for melanin


How to pronounce melanin (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of melanin

: a dark brown or black substance that is a natural part of people's skin, hair, and eyes


mel·​a·​nin | \ ˈmel-ə-nən How to pronounce melanin (audio) \

Medical Definition of melanin

: any of various black, dark brown, reddish brown, or yellow pigments of animal or plant structures (as skin, hair, the choroid, or a raw potato when exposed to air) especially : any of numerous animal pigments that are essentially polymeric derivatives of indole formed by enzymatic modification of tyrosine

More from Merriam-Webster on melanin

Britannica English: Translation of melanin for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about melanin

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