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[kyoo-ti-kuh l] /ˈkyu tɪ kəl/
the nonliving epidermis that surrounds the edges of the fingernail or toenail.
the epidermis.
a superficial integument, membrane, or the like.
Also called cuticula. Zoology. the outer, noncellular layer of the arthropod integument, composed of a mixture of chitin and protein and commonly containing other hardening substances as well.
Botany. a very thin hyaline film covering the surface of plants, derived from the outer surfaces of the epidermal cells.
Origin of cuticle
1605-15; < Latin cutīcula the skin, equivalent to cuti(s) skin, cutis + -cula -cle1
Related forms
[kyoo-tik-yuh-ler] /kyuˈtɪk yə lər/ (Show IPA),
subcuticular, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for cuticle
  • The angle that the nail makes with its cuticle increases.
  • The iron has specially vented plates to extract moisture from the hair, steam it flat and seal the hair cuticle.
  • The bees' main defense-stinging-rarely works against the hornets, which are armored with tough plates of cuticle.
  • They dehydrate the plants by breaking down the outer cuticle on the leaf surface.
  • Apparently the hyaline layer, where the fluorescent molecules reside, of the cuticle is resistant and remains in fossils.
British Dictionary definitions for cuticle


dead skin, esp that round the base of a fingernail or toenail
another name for epidermis
any covering layer or membrane
the protective layer, containing cutin, that covers the epidermis of higher plants
the hard protective layer covering the epidermis of many invertebrates
Derived Forms
cuticular (kjuːˈtɪkjʊlə) adjective
Word Origin
C17: from Latin cutīcula diminutive of cutis 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 cuticle

1610s, from Latin cuticula, diminutive of cutis "skin," from PIE *ku-ti-, from root *(s)keu- "to cover, conceal" (cf. Lithuanian kiautas "husk," Old English hyd "skin, hide;" see hide (n.1)). Specialized sense of "skin at the base of the nail" is from 1907. Related: Cuticular.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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cuticle in Medicine

cuticle cu·ti·cle (kyōō'tĭ-kəl)

  1. The strip of hardened skin at the base and sides of a fingernail or toenail.

  2. The outermost layer of the skin; epidermis.

  3. Dead or cornified epidermis.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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cuticle in Science
  1. The noncellular, hardened or membranous protective covering of many invertebrates, such as the transparent membrane that covers annelids.

  2. A layer of wax and cutin that covers the outermost surfaces of a plant. The cuticle is secreted by the epidermis and helps prevent water loss and infection by parasites.

  3. The hard skin around the sides and base of a fingernail or toenail.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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