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

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 Just like the rest of your skin, the undereyes produce more melanin when exposed to UV rays, so what turns into a tan line on your body becomes a dark circle under your eyes. Lauren Hubbard, Town & Country, "How to Get Rid of Dark Circles," 4 Feb. 2019 Experts think melasma likely happens when your melanocytes (the color-making cells in your skin) go a little overboard in making the dark pigment known as melanin. Korin Miller, SELF, "What You Should Know About Melasma, Those Random Dark Spots on Your Face," 27 Aug. 2018 Melanin Madness Day: March 1 This day of glory lifts up all things melanin! Danielle Young, The Root, "14 Black Holidays We Wish Were Real That Are Not Juneteenth, Kwanzaa or MLK Day," 19 June 2018 One of these ingestibles can power a 5 milliWatt device (or, 0.005 of a watt) for up to 18 hours using 600 milligrams of active melanin material. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "You Can Swallow This Battery," 24 Aug. 2016 The melanin in your skin overreacts to UV damage and pools together to create an age spot. Melissa Matthews, Woman's Day, "The Foolproof Anti-Aging Skin Routine," 24 Aug. 2015 This build-up blocks the production of melanin, a.k.a. our hair's pigment. 7. Marci Robin, Good Housekeeping, "9 Things You Didn't Know About Gray Hair," 27 July 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

29 Apr 2019

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The first known use of melanin was in 1843

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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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one that collects or salvages junk

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