noun, often attributive
\ ˈskin How to pronounce skin (audio) \

Definition of skin

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1a(1) : the integument of an animal (such as a fur-bearing mammal or a bird) separated from the body usually with its hair or feathers
(2) : a usually unmounted specimen of a vertebrate (as in a museum)
b : the hide or pelt of a game or domestic animal
c(1) : the pelt of an animal prepared for use as a trimming or in a garment — compare hide entry 2
(2) : a sheet of parchment or vellum made from a hide
2a : the external limiting tissue layer of an animal body especially : the 2-layered covering of a vertebrate body consisting of an outer epidermis and an inner dermis
b : an outer covering (such as a rind or husk) of a fruit or seed
c : a membranous film or scum (as on boiling milk or drying paint)
3 : the life or physical well-being of a person saved his own skin
4 : a sheathing or casing forming the outside surface of a structure (such as a ship or airplane)
by the skin of one's teeth
: by a very narrow margin
under one's skin
: so deeply penetrative as to irritate, stimulate, provoke thought, or otherwise excite
under the skin
: beneath apparent or surface differences : at heart


skinned; skinning

Definition of skin (Entry 2 of 3)

transitive verb

1a : to strip, scrape, or rub off an outer covering (such as the skin or rind) of
b : to strip or peel off
c : to cut, chip, or damage the surface of fell and skinned my knee
2a : to cover with or as if with skin
b : to heal over with skin
3a : to strip of money or property : fleece
b : to defeat badly
4 : to urge on and direct the course of (a draft animal)

intransitive verb

1 : to become covered with or as if with skin
2a : shinny
b : to pass or get by with scant room to spare

Definition of skin (Entry 3 of 3)

: devoted to showing nudes skin magazines

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Other Words from skin


skinless \ ˈskin-​ləs How to pronounce skinless (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for skin

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Noun

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Examples of skin in a Sentence

Noun the rough skin of a shark Choose makeup that matches your skin tone. These snakes shed their skins once a year. Native Americans had many uses for animal skins. His boots are made of alligator skin. Potato skin is very nutritious. Verb The hunter skinned the rabbit and prepared it for cooking. I skinned my knee when I fell.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Daffodils are blooming, some braver souls are wearing t-shirts and babies born in the fall are confused by the sensation of sun on their skin. oregonlive, "Portland metro Sunday weather: Rain is back," 23 Feb. 2020 These were initially made by using several genes (now several proteins produced by some of those genes) to cause normal cells, usually skin cells, to become like embryonic stem cells. Henry T. Greely, STAT, "Human reproductive cloning: The curious incident of the dog in the night-time," 21 Feb. 2020 Put on your gardening gloves (this is especially important with plants that have sap, as some—like the kind from a rubber tree—can irritate your skin), and cut the plant's stem below the node. Brittney Morgan, House Beautiful, "How to Propagate a Plant From Cuttings in 5 Easy Steps," 17 Feb. 2020 Since it's been so mild this winter, this will be a major shock to the senses, so dress warm and protect your skin from frostbite. Max Golembo, ABC News, "Coldest air of the season is moving into the Midwest and the Northeast," 13 Feb. 2020 Who knew bourbon could be good for your skin as well as your spirits? Kirby Adams, The Courier-Journal, "From Rolling Stones tickets to a spa day, you can't beat these 5 Valentine's Day gifts," 10 Feb. 2020 Junior forward Jericho Sims, a double-double machine who seemed to have shed his docile skin, reverted to last year’s form. Nick Moyle,, "Texas blows another lead in ‘gut punch’ of a loss to Texas Tech," 8 Feb. 2020 The newt grinned, retracting his poisonous spines into his skin. Riane Konc, The New Yorker, "Aesop’s Fables Written After a Bad Breakup," 5 Feb. 2020 As much as half of an old pillow’s weight may be attributed to dust mites, dead skin cells, and mold and mildew. Paige Szmodis, Popular Mechanics, "The 7 Best Pillows for All Sleeping Positions," 14 Jan. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Her sister, who’s light-skinned, passed as white and didn’t want to be considered Mexican American. Elaine Ayala,, "Ayala: ‘To defeat a people, take away their language’," 1 Feb. 2020 Corcoran said someone skinned the hides off the coyotes and placed their bodies in a cardboard box near the area near the bike trail. Segann March,, "Three coyote carcasses skinned, dropped off near Mt. Airy Forest," 6 Jan. 2020 Newspapers were also attacking Kavanaugh, and now many are busy skinning Trump and calling his 60 million voters — some being their own readers — stupid. John Kass,, "Column: Jeffrey Epstein and Brett Kavanaugh, for ABC News, a tale of double standards," 7 Nov. 2019 Every week, the archaeologists skinned and cracked open a few of the bones. Kiona N. Smith, Ars Technica, "The world’s oldest leftovers, left in Pleistocene storage containers," 14 Oct. 2019 Yukon Gold and other yellow-skinned varieties such as Carola, along with Kennebec, German Butterball, some purple-skinned and some fingerlings such as the French fingerling, are all-purpose potatoes. Jennifer Rude Klett, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Wisconsin farmers — and diners — dig potatoes of all types and colors," 15 Aug. 2019 The property, which is only 15 minutes from downtown Livermore, includes a four-bedroom home, barns, sheds, 14 hunting camps with cabins, skinning sheds and grazing land for up to 3,200 cows. Peter Fimrite,, "Newsom, legislators seek to add Bay Area open space to California park system," 11 Jan. 2020 When a photo of the cast, which features Rashida Jones, Genneya Walton, Scarlet Spencer, Iman Benson, Justin Claiborne, and Ravi Cabot-Conyers, went viral last week, many online noticed that the cast is decidedly lighter skinned. Essence, "Kenya Barris Responds to Critics Who Slammed 'Black Excellence' Casting: 'These Kids Look Like My Kids'," 24 Dec. 2019 When Sean cooks, the camera zooms in on the disgusting violence of skinning an eel. Christian Holub,, "Servant star Rupert Grint shares the weirdest advice M. Night Shyamalan gave him," 27 Nov. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective My colleague Emily Schultz went a few months after me and had a funky, skin contact wine. Alex Beggs, Bon Appétit, "The Wine Store in Barcelona Where Wine Nerds Just Want to Share the Love," 24 June 2019 The main issue with temperature drops is skin dehydration or lack of water, says ZENii Skincare founder, GP, and cosmetic doctor Johanna Ward., "Everything You Need To Get Through The Season With Flake-Free Skin," 21 Mar. 2018 The all-in-one formula gently removes makeup, cleanses face, and leaves skin feeling soft—with no need to even rinse. Kaitlyn Yarborough, Southern Living, "Our Favorite Back-to-School Drugstore Beauty Bargains," 11 July 2017 Using spatula and a pair of tongs, carefully turn each fillet so skin side is up. Claire Saffitz, Bon Appetit, "Crispy-Skin Salmon with Napa Cabbage," 30 Oct. 2017 Sun Protection F.A.B.'s Skin Tint offers SPF 30, and Glossier's Perfecting Skin Tint has none. Sable Yong, Allure, "First Aid Beauty's New Skin Tint Is VERY Similar to Glossier's But They Are NOT the Same," 18 July 2017 Skin imperfections are revealed to have names—papules, pustules, milia, cysts—and to respond to certain treatments. Jamie Lauren Keiles, The New Yorker, "Cleanse, Tone, Obsess: A Forum for Skin-Care Addicts," 6 June 2017 Skin injuries among people who have a toxic exposure to liquid chlorine include burning pain, redness and blisters. Susan Scutti, CNN, "Pool party poopers: CDC warns of parasitic infection, toxic gas," 19 May 2017 Appeared in the Feb. 21, 2017, print edition as 'Sometimes, a CEO’s Qualifications May Be Skin Deep.' Alina Dizik, WSJ, "Want to Be a CEO? It Helps to Look the Part," 17 Feb. 2017

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


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2a


1933, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for skin


Middle English, from Old Norse skinn; akin to Old English scinn skin, Middle High German schint fruit peel

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Time Traveler for skin

Time Traveler

The first known use of skin was before the 12th century

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Statistics for skin

Last Updated

26 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Skin.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for skin


How to pronounce skin (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of skin

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the natural outer layer of tissue that covers the body of a person or animal
: the skin of an animal that has been removed from the body often with its hair or feathers still attached and that is used to make things (such as clothes)
: the outer covering of a fruit, vegetable, etc.



English Language Learners Definition of skin (Entry 2 of 2)

: to remove the skin of (an animal, fruit, or vegetable)
: to scrape or rub off some of the skin from (a body part)


\ ˈskin How to pronounce skin (audio) \

Kids Definition of skin

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : the usually flexible outer layer of an animal body that in vertebrate animals is made up of two layers of cells forming an inner dermis and an outer epidermis
2 : the hide of an animal
3 : an outer or surface layer potato skins

Other Words from skin

skinless \ -​ləs \ adjective
skinned \ ˈskind \ adjective smooth-skinned


skinned; skinning

Kids Definition of skin (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to strip, scrape, or rub off the skin of This was the first summer her knees had not been skinned a dozen times …— Betsy Byars, The Summer of the Swans
2 : to remove an outer layer from (as by peeling)


\ ˈskin How to pronounce skin (audio) \

Medical Definition of skin

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the 2-layered covering of the body consisting of an outer ectodermal epidermis that is more or less cornified and penetrated by the openings of sweat and sebaceous glands and an inner mesodermal dermis that is composed largely of connective tissue and is richly supplied with blood vessels and nerves
skinned; skinning

Medical Definition of skin (Entry 2 of 2)

: to cut or scrape the skin of fell and skinned his knee

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More from Merriam-Webster on skin

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for skin

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with skin

Spanish Central: Translation of skin

Nglish: Translation of skin for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of skin for Arabic Speakers

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