mel·​a·​nin | \ˈme-lə-nən \

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

The only difference between us is the melanin in our skin. Michael Harriot, The Root, "The Root’s Clapback Mailbag: Lotion Is the Cure for Racism," 18 May 2018 And despite what many believe, their fear of being infected with melanin wasn’t limited to that of blacks. Michael Harriot, The Root, "New Study Shows White People Don’t Like Living Near Black People; Captain Obvious Declines Comment," 25 Apr. 2018 Scientists like Kidwell argue that both external and ingested cocaine binds to melanin in the hair. Ellen Airhart, WIRED, "The Hairy Problem With Drug Testing," 1 Apr. 2018 Diandra Forrest has albinism, a condition that results in little or no production of melanin, the pigment that helps determine the color of your skin, hair, and eyes, per the Mayo Clinic. Korin Miller, SELF, "This Photographer Is Documenting the Realities of Living With Skin Conditions," 14 June 2018 Book Club: Not a drop of melanin to be found, and no, Jane Fonda’s tan doesn’t count. Check! Allison P. Davis, The Cut, "Book Club Is Basically a Nancy Meyers Movie," 18 May 2018 Every day, my melanin launches merciless war against a world that seeks to beat it down. Malavika Kannan, Teen Vogue, "What Colorism Feels Like as an Indian-American Woman," 17 May 2018 Melanoma is a cancer that originates in melanocytes, the cells that produce the skin-color pigment melanin. Scientific American, "How Cancer Can Become Therapy-Resistant," 7 Apr. 2018 Expert fix: Topical treatments that contain skin lighteners such as soy, licorice extract, or vitamin C have been shown to disperse excess melanin, making skin look more even-toned. Nicole Catanese, Cosmopolitan, "The 8 Most Annoying Skin Problems Every Girl Deals With," 24 Aug. 2017

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

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Last Updated

14 Oct 2018

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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 \

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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