[ skin ]
See synonyms for: skinskinnedskinningskins on

  1. the external covering or integument of an animal body, especially when soft and flexible.

  2. such an integument stripped from the body of an animal, especially a small animal; pelt: a beaver skin.

  1. the tanned or treated pelt or hide of an animal, especially when used in apparel and accessories; leather (usually used in combination): pigskin;calfskin.

  2. a container made of animal skin, used for holding liquids, especially wine.

  3. 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.

  4. Computers.

    • a graphical user interface that changes the appearance of a program, app, or website without changing its underlying functioning: It’s still the same old program, but the new skin lets you move all the tools around, so the navigation is better for most people.

    • an audio or art file in a video game that changes the appearance or sound of an item or a character without changing its underlying functioning, strength, job class, or other specifications: The game is free to play, but I’ve spent a lot on skins so my character can look this badass.

  5. Jewelry.

    • the outermost layer of a pearl.

    • the outermost layer of a diamond as found: often different in color and refraction from the inner part of the stone.

  6. Metallurgy. an outer layer of a metal piece having characteristics differing from those of the interior.

  7. Nautical.

    • the shell or ceiling of a hull.

    • the outer, exposed part of a furled sail.

  8. Rocketry. the outer surface of a missile or rocket.

  9. Slang. a condom.

  10. skins, Slang. drums.

  11. Slang. a swindler; cheat.

  12. Slang. a skinflint.

  13. Slang. a horse.

  14. Slang. a dollar bill.

verb (used with object),skinned, skin·ning.
  1. to strip or deprive of skin; flay; peel; husk.

  2. to remove or strip off (any covering, outer coating, surface layer, etc.).

  1. 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.

  2. to urge on, drive, or whip (a draft animal, as a mule or ox).

  3. to climb or jump: He skinned the rope to the top of the wall.

  4. to cover with or as if with skin.

  5. Slang. to strip of money or belongings; fleece, as in gambling.

  6. Cards. to slide cards one at a time off the top of (the pack) in dealing.

  7. Slang. to defeat completely: skinned at the polls.

  8. Slang. to castigate; reprimand: skinned for his disobedience.

verb (used without object),skinned, skin·ning.
  1. Slang. to slip off or depart hurriedly (often followed by out).

    • Slang. showing or featuring nude persons, often in a sexually explicit way: a skin magazine.

    • presenting films, stage shows, exhibitions, etc., that feature nude persons, especially in a sexually explicit way: a Times Square skin house.

Idioms about skin

  1. 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.

  2. get under one's skin, Slang.

  1. have a thick skin, to be insensitive to criticism or rebuffs: The complaint desk is a job for someone who has a thick skin.

  2. 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.

  3. in / with a whole skin, without harm; unscathed; safely: She escaped from the burning building with a whole skin.

  4. no skin off one's back / nose / teeth, Slang. of no interest or concern or involving no risk to one.

  5. save one's skin, Informal. to avoid harm, especially to escape death: They betrayed their country to save their skins.

  6. skin alive, Informal.

    • to subdue completely, especially in a cruel or ruthless manner: The home team was skinned alive this afternoon.

  7. under the skin, in essence; fundamentally; despite appearances or differences: sisters under the skin.

Origin of skin

First recorded in 1050–1100; Middle English noun skin, skin(n)e, Old English scinn, from Old Norse skinn “skin, fur”; cognate with dialectal German Schinde “rind, skin of fruit”; the verb was derived from the noun

synonym study For skin

2. 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.

Other words for skin

Other words from skin

  • skin·like, adjective
  • un·der·skin, noun
  • un·skinned, adjective

Words Nearby skin Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use skin in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for skin


/ (skɪn) /

    • 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

    • (as modifier): a skin disease See also dermis, epidermis Related adjectives: cutaneous, dermatoid

  1. a person's complexion: a fair skin

  1. any similar covering in a plant or lower animal

  2. any coating or film, such as one that forms on the surface of a liquid

  3. unsplit leather made from the outer covering of various mammals, reptiles, etc: Compare hide 2 (def. 1)

  4. the outer covering of a fur-bearing animal, dressed and finished with the hair on

  5. a container made from animal skin

  6. the outer covering surface of a vessel, rocket, etc

  7. a person's skin regarded as his life: to save one's skin

  8. (often plural) informal (in jazz or pop use) a drum

  9. informal short for skinhead

  10. slang a cigarette paper used for rolling a cannabis cigarette

  11. Irish slang a person; sort: he's a good old skin

  12. by the skin of one's teeth by a narrow margin; only just

  13. get under one's skin informal to irritate one

  14. jump out of one's skin to be very startled

  15. no skin off one's nose informal not a matter that affects one adversely

  16. skin and bone extremely thin

  17. thick skin an insensitive nature

  18. thin skin a sensitive nature

verbskins, skinning or skinned
  1. (tr) to remove the outer covering from (fruit, etc)

  2. (tr) to scrape a small piece of skin from (a part of oneself) in falling, etc: he skinned his knee

  1. (often foll by over) to cover (something) with skin or a skinlike substance or (of something) to become covered in this way

  2. (tr) slang to strip of money; swindle

  1. relating to or for the skin: skin cream

  2. slang, mainly US involving or depicting nudity: skin magazines

Origin of skin

Old English scinn, from Old Norse skinn

Derived forms of skin

  • skinless, adjective
  • skinlike, 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 skin


[ skĭn ]

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

Cultural definitions for skin


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 Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Other Idioms and Phrases with skin


In addition to the idioms beginning with skin

  • skin alive
  • skin and bones
  • skin deep
  • skin off one's nose
  • skin of one's teeth

also see:

  • beauty is only skin deep
  • by the skin of one's teeth
  • get under someone's skin
  • jump out of one's skin
  • make one's flesh creep (skin crawl)
  • more than one way to skin a cat
  • no skin off one's nose
  • save one's bacon (skin)
  • soaked to the skin
  • thick skin

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.