[ kahy-tin ]

  1. 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.

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Origin of chitin

1830–40; <French chitine<Greek chit(ṓn) tunic, chiton + French -ine-in2

Other words from chitin

  • chi·tin·ous, chi·tin·oid, adjective

Words Nearby chitin Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use chitin in a sentence

  • From end to end of the tube is a fine thread of chitin twisted in a close spiral like a spring.

    Little Busybodies | Jeanette Augustus Marks and Julia Moody
  • You see, the chitin acts both as armor-plate for the soft parts and also as a firm support to the many muscles.

    Little Busybodies | Jeanette Augustus Marks and Julia Moody
  • If, then, this tissue of Pteraspis is not to be looked upon as chitin, how can we imagine its formation?

    The Origin of Vertebrates | Walter Holbrook Gaskell
  • This layer is easily dissolved in a solution of hypochlorite of soda, a fluid which dissolves chitin.

    The Origin of Vertebrates | Walter Holbrook Gaskell
  • This cuticle is very much thicker than is usually found in vertebrates, and, strangely enough, has been thought to contain chitin.

    The Origin of Vertebrates | Walter Holbrook Gaskell

British Dictionary definitions for chitin


/ (ˈkaɪtɪn) /

  1. a polysaccharide that is the principal component of the exoskeletons of arthropods and of the bodies of fungi

Origin of chitin

C19: from French chitine, from Greek khitōn chiton + -in

Derived forms of chitin

  • chitinous, adjective
  • chitinoid, adjective

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

Scientific definitions for chitin


[ kītn ]

  1. 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 © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.