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[kahy-tin] /ˈkaɪ tɪn/
noun, Biochemistry.
a nitrogen-containing polysaccharide, related chemically to cellulose, that forms a semitransparent horny substance and is a principal constituent of the exoskeleton, or outer covering, of insects, crustaceans, and arachnids.
Origin of chitin
1830-40; < French chitine < Greek chit(ṓn) tunic, chiton + French -ine -in2
Related forms
chitinous, chitinoid, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for chitin


a polysaccharide that is the principal component of the exoskeletons of arthropods and of the bodies of fungi
Derived Forms
chitinous, adjective
chitinoid, adjective
Word Origin
C19: from French chitine, from Greek khitōnchiton + -in
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for chitin

1836, from French chitine, from Greek khiton "frock, tunic," of soldiers, "coat of mail," used metaphorically for "any coat or covering." "Probably an Oriental word" [Liddell & Scott]. Klein compares Hebrew kuttoneth, Aramaic kittana, Arabic kattan "linen."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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chitin in Medicine

chitin chi·tin (kīt'n)
A tough, protective, semitransparent polysaccharide forming the principal component of arthropod exoskeletons and the cell walls of certain fungi.

chi'tin·ous adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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chitin in Science
A tough, semitransparent substance that is the main component of the exoskeletons of arthropods, such as the shells of crustaceans and the outer coverings of insects. Chitin is also found in the cell walls of certain fungi and algae. Chemically, it is a nitrogenous polysaccharide (a carbohydrate).
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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