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[ep-i-dur-mis] /ˌɛp ɪˈdɜr mɪs/
Anatomy. the outer, nonvascular, nonsensitive layer of the skin, covering the true skin or corium.
Zoology. the outermost living layer of an animal, usually composed of one or more layers of cells.
Botany. a thin layer of cells forming the outer integument of seed plants and ferns.
Origin of epidermis
1620-30; < Late Latin: surface skin < Greek epidermís upper skin. See epi-, derma1
Related forms
epidermal, epidermic, adjective
epidermically, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for epidermal
Historical Examples
  • epidermal cells with sinuous thick walls, and a few tooth-hairs.

    Grasses H. Marshall Ward
  • (g) The baleen of whales also belongs to the epidermal exoskeleton.

    The Vertebrate Skeleton Sidney H. Reynolds
  • The crural glands, which occur in many terrestrial Arthropods, are epidermal in origin and totally distinct from the coxal glands.

  • The epidermal covering of snakes and lizards is periodically molted, or, as we say, the skin is shed.

  • The different species have characteristic tubes, formed by mucus secreted by epidermal glands.

    The Sea-beach at Ebb-tide Augusta Foote Arnold
  • epidermal cells small, with sinuous walls: all the cell-walls contain silica.

    Grasses H. Marshall Ward
  • In all these grasses the epidermal cells are chiefly long, rectangular or slightly hexagonal, with thin and plane walls.

    Grasses H. Marshall Ward
  • The epidermal cells in this series have sinuous thickened walls, and here and there small tooth-like hairs.

    Grasses H. Marshall Ward
  • The seeds are extensively used on account of the mucilage of the outer surface (epidermal cells).

  • The attack on wool is slow, and the epidermal scales of wool make their appearance.

British Dictionary definitions for epidermal


Also called cuticle. the thin protective outer layer of the skin, composed of stratified epithelial tissue
the outer layer of cells of an invertebrate
the outer protective layer of cells of a plant, which may be thickened by a cuticle
Derived Forms
epidermal, epidermic, epidermoid, adjective
Word Origin
C17: via Late Latin from Greek, from epi- + derma skin
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 epidermal



1620s, from Greek epidermis, from epi "on" (see epi-) + derma "skin" (see derma). Related: Epidermal; epidermic.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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epidermal in Medicine

epidermis ep·i·der·mis (ěp'ĭ-dûr'mĭs)
The nonvascular outer protective layer of the skin, covering the dermis.

ep'i·der'mal (-məl) or ep'i·der'mic 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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epidermal in Science
  1. The protective outer layer of the skin. In invertebrate animals, the epidermis is made up of a single layer of cells. In vertebrates, it is made up of many layers of cells and overlies the dermis. Hair and feathers grow from the epidermis.

  2. The outer layer of cells of the stems, roots, and leaves of plants. In most plants, the epidermis is a single layer of cells set close together to protect the plant from water loss, invasion by fungi, and physical damage. The epidermis that is exposed to air is covered with a protective substance called cuticle. See more at photosynthesis.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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epidermal in Culture
epidermis [(ep-uh-dur-mis)]

The outside layers of the skin.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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