tryp·​sin ˈtrip-sən How to pronounce trypsin (audio)
: a proteolytic enzyme that is secreted in the pancreatic juice in the form of trypsinogen, is activated in the duodenum, and is most active in a slightly alkaline medium

Examples of trypsin in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Pectin is recognized as a prebiotic that is not broken down by human saliva or gastric acid and is resistant to digestive enzymes pepsin, trypsin and rennet. Valerie Agyeman, Good Housekeeping, 21 Mar. 2023 The Twinkies ingredients list is analyzed to figure out how these snacks have such a long shelf life (45 days!), while in lab, gummi bears are subjected to sonication, liquid nitrogen, and trypsin. Science & Food, Discover Magazine, 23 Oct. 2014 Invented by biochemistry grad student Brian Zaccheo, this match-box-sized test detects high levels of trypsin, a pancreatic enzyme that's abundant in pancreatitic patients. Patrick Morgan, Discover Magazine, 28 Apr. 2011 Righetti’s first attempts to extract trace proteins from a tiny parchment fragment, using the digestive enzyme trypsin, failed to produce any results. Jo Marchant, Smithsonian Magazine, 10 Nov. 2022 However, raw peanuts can contain high amounts of something called trypsin inhibitors. Joan Morris, The Mercury News, 14 Feb. 2017

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'trypsin.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


borrowed from German Trypsin, of uncertain origin

Note: The term Trypsin was introduced by the German physiologist Wilhelm Kühne (1837-1900) in "Ueber das Trypsin (Enzym des Pankreas)," Verhandlungen des Naturhistorischen-Medicinischen Vereins zu Heidelberg, Neue Folge, 1. Band (1877), pp. 194-98. In this article Kühne says nothing about the origin of the word. In a preceding article (pp. 190-93), taken from Kühne's presentation to a session of the Verein ("Ueber das Verhalten verschiedener organisirter un sog. ungeformter Fermente," "Sitzung am 4. Februar 1876"), the following is stated: "Genauer untersucht wurde besonders das Eiweiss verdauende Enzym des Pankreas, für welches, da es zugleich Spaltung der Albuminkörper veranlasst, der Name Trypsin gewählt wurde." ("In particular the pancreatic enzyme that digests albumin was more closely investigated, for which the name trypsin was chosen, as it accomplishes at the same time cleaving of the albuminous bodies.") Though the base tryps- appears to be a nominal derivative of a Greek verb, no verb is known with an appropriate meaning. The Oxford English Dictionary suggests trîpsis "rubbing, wearing down," allegedly because the enzyme is produced by rubbing the pancreas with glycerin, but nothing in Kühne's article supports this, and y for expected i is unexplained. (In Kühne's procedure the fresh pancreas is initially crushed with alcohol and glass powder.)

First Known Use

1876, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of trypsin was in 1876

Dictionary Entries Near trypsin

Cite this Entry

“Trypsin.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition


tryp·​sin ˈtrip-sən How to pronounce trypsin (audio)
: an enzyme from pancreatic juice that helps to break down proteins

Medical Definition


tryp·​sin ˈtrip-sən How to pronounce trypsin (audio)
: a crystallizable proteolytic enzyme that differs from pepsin in several ways (as in being most active in a slightly alkaline medium and in hydrolyzing esters as well as amides) and that is produced and secreted in the pancreatic juice in the form of inactive trypsinogen and activated in the intestine compare chymotrypsin
: a preparation from the pancreatic juice differing from pancreatin in containing principally proteolytic enzymes and used chiefly as a digestive and lytic agent

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