Try Our Apps


Avoid these words. Seriously.


[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.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for epidermis
Historical Examples
  • This aids in preventing decay and slipping of the epidermis.

    Taxidermy Leon Luther Pray
  • The epidermis is usually indistinguishable in the older roots.

  • epidermis, or outer surface, which is a series of scales lying one upon the other.


    William H. Dooley
  • This is the case in the epidermis of the stems and leaves of most grasses.

    A Handbook of Some South Indian Grasses Rai Bahadur K. Ranga Achariyar
  • Externally the leaf is covered on both the sides by the epidermis.

    A Handbook of Some South Indian Grasses Rai Bahadur K. Ranga Achariyar
  • "My epidermis has thickened since those days," he returns, with a laugh.

    Floyd Grandon's Honor

    Amanda Minnie Douglas
  • The epidermis of the leaves furnishes the strings for hammocks and all kinds of cordage.

    The Forest Exiles Mayne Reid
  • The complete peeling off of the epidermis shows the true cause of the disease.

    Apis Mellifica C. W. Wolf
  • Wrinkles and warts on the epidermis; this is the work of time.

    Notre-Dame de Paris Victor Hugo
  • In such cases the hairs are mere excrescences from the epidermis.

    Vegetable Teratology

    Maxwell T. Masters
British Dictionary definitions for epidermis


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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for epidermis

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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
epidermis 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.
Cite This Source
epidermis 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.
Cite This Source
epidermis 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.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Nearby words for epidermis

Difficulty index for epidermis

Most English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for epidermis

Scrabble Words With Friends