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[skin] /skɪn/
the external covering or integument of an animal body, especially when soft and flexible.
such an integument stripped from the body of an animal, especially a small animal; pelt:
a beaver skin.
the tanned or treated pelt or hide of an animal, especially when used in apparel and accessories; leather (usually used in combination):
pigskin; calfskin.
any integumentary covering, casing, outer coating, or surface layer, as an investing membrane, the rind or peel of fruit, or a film on liquid:
a skin of thin ice; the aluminum skin of an airplane.
  1. the outermost layer of a pearl.
  2. the outermost layer of a diamond as found: often different in color and refraction from the inner part of the stone.
  1. the shell or ceiling of a hull.
  2. the outer, exposed part of a furled sail.
Metallurgy. an outer layer of a metal piece having characteristics differing from those of the interior.
a container made of animal skin, used for holding liquids, especially wine.
Slang. condom.
skins, Slang. drums.
Slang. a swindler; cheat.
Slang. a skinflint.
Slang. a horse.
Slang. a dollar bill.
Rocketry. the outer surface of a missile or rocket.
verb (used with object), skinned, skinning.
to strip or deprive of skin; flay; peel; husk.
to remove or strip off (any covering, outer coating, surface layer, etc.).
to scrape or rub a small piece of skin from (one's hand, leg, etc.), as in falling or sliding against something:
She skinned her knee.
to urge on, drive, or whip (a draft animal, as a mule or ox).
to climb or jump:
He skinned the rope to the top of the wall.
to cover with or as if with skin.
Slang. to strip of money or belongings; fleece, as in gambling.
Cards. to slide cards one at a time off the top of (the pack) in dealing.
Slang. to defeat completely:
skinned at the polls.
Slang. to castigate; reprimand:
skinned for his disobedience.
verb (used without object), skinned, skinning.
Slang. to slip off or depart hurriedly (often followed by out).
  1. Slang. showing or featuring nude persons, often in a sexually explicit way:
    a skin magazine.
  2. presenting films, stage shows, exhibitions, etc., that feature nude persons, especially in a sexually explicit way:
    a Times Square skin house.
by the skin of one's teeth, Informal. by an extremely narrow margin; just barely; scarcely:
We made the last train by the skin of our teeth.
get under one's skin, Slang.
  1. to irritate; bother:
    His laugh really gets under my skin.
  2. to affect deeply; impress; penetrate:
    That sort of music always gets under my skin.
have a thick skin, to be insensitive to criticism or rebuffs:
The complaint desk is a job for someone who has a thick skin.
have a thin skin, to be extremely sensitive to criticism or rebuffs; be easily offended:
Be careful what you say to me, I have a thin skin.
in / with a whole skin, without harm; unscathed; safely:
She escaped from the burning building with a whole skin.
no skin off one's back / nose / teeth, Slang. of no interest or concern or involving no risk to one.
save one's skin, Informal. to avoid harm, especially to escape death:
They betrayed their country to save their skins.
skin alive, Informal.
  1. to reprimand; scold.
  2. to subdue completely, especially in a cruel or ruthless manner:
    The home team was skinned alive this afternoon.
under the skin, in essence; fundamentally; despite appearances or differences:
sisters under the skin.
Origin of skin
1150-1200; Middle English (noun) < Old Norse skinn; cognate with dialectal German Schinde skin of fruit
Related forms
skinlike, adjective
underskin, noun
unskinned, adjective
2. fur. Skin, hide, pelt are names for the outer covering of animals, including humans. Skin is the general word: an abrasion of the skin; the skin of a muskrat. Hide applies to the skin of large animals, as cattle, horses, or elephants: a buffalo hide. Pelt applies to the untanned skin of smaller animals: a mink pelt. 4. hull, shell, husk, crust. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for get under one's skin


  1. the tissue forming the outer covering of the vertebrate body: it consists of two layers (the dermis and epidermis), the outermost of which may be covered with hair, scales, feathers, etc. It is mainly protective and sensory in function
  2. (as modifier): a skin disease See also dermis, epidermis related adjectives cutaneous dermatoid
a person's complexion: a fair skin
any similar covering in a plant or lower animal
any coating or film, such as one that forms on the surface of a liquid
unsplit leather made from the outer covering of various mammals, reptiles, etc Compare hide2 (sense 1)
the outer covering of a fur-bearing animal, dressed and finished with the hair on
a container made from animal skin
the outer covering surface of a vessel, rocket, etc
a person's skin regarded as his life: to save one's skin
(often pl) (informal) (in jazz or pop use) a drum
(informal) short for skinhead
(slang) a cigarette paper used for rolling a cannabis cigarette
(Irish, slang) a person; sort: he's a good old skin
by the skin of one's teeth, by a narrow margin; only just
(informal) get under one's skin, to irritate one
jump out of one's skin, to be very startled
(informal) no skin off one's nose, not a matter that affects one adversely
skin and bone, extremely thin
thick skin, an insensitive nature
thin skin, a sensitive nature
verb skins, skinning, skinned
(transitive) to remove the outer covering from (fruit, etc)
(transitive) to scrape a small piece of skin from (a part of oneself) in falling, etc: he skinned his knee
(often foll by over) to cover (something) with skin or a skinlike substance or (of something) to become covered in this way
(transitive) (slang) to strip of money; swindle
relating to or for the skin: skin cream
(slang, mainly US) involving or depicting nudity: skin magazines
See also skin up
Derived Forms
skinless, adjective
skinlike, adjective
Word Origin
Old English scinn, from Old Norse skinn
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 get under one's skin



c.1200, "animal hide" (usually dressed and tanned), from Old Norse skinn "animal hide, fur," from Proto-Germanic *skintha- (cf. Old English scinn (rare), Old High German scinten, German schinden "to flay, skin;" German dialectal schind "skin of a fruit," Flemish schinde "bark"), from PIE *sken- "to cut off" (cf. Breton scant "scale of a fish," Irish scainim "I tear, I burst"), from root *sek- "to cut" (see section (n.)).

Ful of fleissche Y was to fele, Now ... Me is lefte But skyn & boon. [hymn, c.1430]
The usual Anglo-Saxon word is hide (n.1). Meaning "epidermis of a living animal or person" is attested from early 14c.; extended to fruits, vegetables, etc. late 14c. Jazz slang sense of "drum" is from 1927. Meaning "a skinhead" is from 1970. As an adjective, it formerly had a slang sense of "cheating" (1868); sense of "pornographic" is attested from 1968. Skin deep is first attested in this:
All the carnall beauty of my wife, Is but skin-deep. [Sir Thomas Overbury, "A Wife," 1613; the poem was a main motive for his murder]
The skin of one's teeth as the narrowest of margins is attested from 1550s in the Geneva Bible literal translation of the Hebrew text in Job xix:20. To get under (someone's) skin "annoy" is from 1896. Skin-graft is from 1871. Skin merchant "recruiting officer" is from 1792.



late 14c., "to remove the skin from" (originally of circumcision), from skin (n.). As "to have (a particular kind of) skin" from c.1400. In 19c. U.S. colloquial use, "to strip, fleece, plunder;" hence skin-game, one in which one player has no chance against the others (as with a stacked deck), the type of con game played in a skin-house. Skin the cat in gymnastics is from 1845. Related: Skinned; skinning.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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get under one's skin in Medicine

skin (skĭn)
The membranous tissue forming an external protective covering or integument of an animal and consisting of the epidermis and dermis. v. skinned, skin·ning, skins
To bruise, cut, or injure the skin of.

skin'less 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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get under one's skin in Science
The outer covering of a vertebrate animal, consisting of two layers of cells, a thick inner layer (the dermis) and a thin outer layer (the epidermis). Structures such as hair, scales, or feathers are contained in the skin, as are fat cells, sweat glands, and sensory receptors. Skin provides a protective barrier against disease-causing microorganisms and against the sun's ultraviolet rays. In warm-blooded animals, it aids in temperature regulation, as by insulating against the cold.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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get under one's skin in Culture

get under one's skin definition

To affect deeply: “At first I couldn't get Wanda to notice me, but now I think I've gotten under her skin.”

skin definition

The external tissue that covers the body. As the body's largest organ (it makes up about one twenty-fifth of an adult's weight), the skin serves as a waterproof covering that helps keep out pathogens and protects against temperature extremes and sunlight. The skin also contains special nerve endings that respond to touch, pressure, heat, and cold. The skin has an outer layer, or epidermis, and a layer immediately below, called the dermis.

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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Slang definitions & phrases for get under one's skin



Featuring nudity; indecently exposing; girlie: a skin flick (1960s+)


  1. The hand as used in handshaking or hand-slapping as a salutation • Nearly always in the expression some skin: My man! Gimme some skin!/ Slip me some skin (1942+ Black)
  2. An inferior racehorse; beetle: They take the first bunch of skins out to gallop (1923+)
  3. A pocketbook, wallet, etc (1790+)
  4. One dollar; a dollar bill; frogskin: One laid out 190 skins (1930+)
  5. A condom; rubber (1935+)
  6. Drums or bongos (1938+ Jazz musicians)


  1. To defeat decisively; trounce; skunk: They skinned the Wolverines 20–zip (1862+)
  2. To cheat or swindle; victimize: You got skinned in that deal (1819+)
  3. To slip away; skedaddle: and then skin out the window (1876+)

Related Terms

frogskin, get under someone's skin, give some skin, no skin off my ass, pigskin, press the flesh, sheepskin

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with get under one's skin
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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