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

Normally, during embryonic development, the melanin-producing skin cells migrate to the top layer of your skin (the epidermis), Dr. Lipner explains. Sarah Jacoby, SELF, "What to Know If Your Weird Mole Turns Out to Be a Blue Nevus," 15 Apr. 2019 Even albino mammals can show some color if their melanin-making genes haven’t been totally damaged. National Geographic, "What is albinism?," 6 Mar. 2019 In the fall of 2017, Beauty Bakerie debuted its Coffee & Cocoa Palette, which includes four earth-tone shades that look equally stunning as eye shadows, highlighters, and bronzer on melanin-rich skin. Shammara Lawrence, Allure, "Beauty Bakerie CEO Cashmere Nicole Opens Up About the Inclusive Indie Makeup Brand's Massive Success," 30 Apr. 2018 Instead, the concentration of poverty has been paired with a concentration of melanin. Tovin Lapan, Fortune, "House Hearing on Slavery Reparations Scheduled for Juneteenth," 18 June 2019 Nobody should have to point out the stupidity of such a position: Inner trauma and tyranny are not passed through generations via melanin. Sahil Handa, National Review, "Why I’m No Longer Talking to Anyone about Anything," 13 June 2019 The production of melanin occurs within melanocytes, specialized cells that are present but not fully functional in albino mammals. National Geographic, "What is albinism?," 6 Mar. 2019 That forms a deep pocket of melanin that looks bluish to the naked eye thanks to something called the Tyndall effect, a term used in physics to describe the way certain types of matter (like fog or dust) scatter light. Sarah Jacoby, SELF, "What to Know If Your Weird Mole Turns Out to Be a Blue Nevus," 15 Apr. 2019 Arbutin works by directly inhibiting the activity of tyrosinase enzymes central to the production of melanin. Allure, "The Skin-Care Glossary: A Comprehensive Guide to Everything You Need to Know," 17 Aug. 2018

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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Last Updated

8 Jul 2019

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The first known use of melanin was in 1843

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More Definitions for melanin



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

Comments on melanin

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an act or instance of editing or removing

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