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 Hyperpigmentation Take a stand against this common skin concern among women of color When cells containing melanin become inflamed, dark spots can appear. Essence, "Everything You Need To Know To Get The Skin You Want This Year," 20 Jan. 2020 La Prairie Lumidose — a molecule blocking the enzyme that creates melanin (the culprit of discoloration) — in White Caviar Eye Extraordinaire targets uneven skin tone and helps lift and firm the eye area. Meg Hemphill, The Hollywood Reporter, "5 Skincare Must-Haves From Brands Used by Meghan Markle and Angelina Jolie," 18 Jan. 2020 Hyperpigmentation — the overproduction of melanin in the skin — can be caused by UV rays and is probably the most common concern for people of color. NBC News, "Best 17 skincare products for dark skin, according to dermatologists," 16 Jan. 2020 Both of these conditions are rooted in an abnormal increase in the production of melanin, the pigment that darkens skin. Tatiana Walk-morris, SELF, "5 Things People of Color Should Know About Taking Care of Their Skin," 12 July 2019 Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation — wherein healing skin overproduces melanin — can leave a dark scar where a blemish once lived. NBC News, "Best 17 skincare products for dark skin, according to dermatologists," 16 Jan. 2020 Error 0: Melanoma comes from melanocytes, which are the skin cells that make melanin pigment (that produces skin color), Boulos said. Tracy Maness, Houston Chronicle, "Melanoma can affect all ages: education, protection important," 7 Jan. 2020 According to the World Health Organization, mercury salts can inhibit the formation of melanin, resulting in a lighter skin tone. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "Woman had 524x the normal level of mercury in her blood from skin cream use," 20 Dec. 2019 The cortex also houses the melanin pigments that give our hair its color. Svenja Lohner, Scientific American, "Test the Strength of Hair," 28 Nov. 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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The first known use of melanin was in 1843

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Last Updated

18 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Melanin.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Feb. 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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