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[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. 2015.
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Examples from the web for epidermis
  • The outermost layer of the skin is called the epidermis.
  • In home use, however, the electronic epidermis would probably remain stable for years.
  • That's when he discovers that his body has been marked by a tattoo, which begins to spread all over his evil epidermis.
  • Corals can also catch food on their mucous coating and absorb nutrients directly through their epidermis.
  • Basal cell carcinoma starts in the top layer of the skin called the epidermis.
  • At first, melanoma cells are found in the epidermis and top layers of the dermis.
  • Now you can slather the doctor's lab results all over your epidermis.
  • Invasive cancers have spread from the epidermis into the dermis below.
  • Anyone tired of his or her epidermis will appreciate the additional pumice stone and rough exfoliation glove.
  • Green food dye sinks into the top three or four layers of the epidermis.
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
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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
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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.
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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.
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epidermis in Culture
epidermis [(ep-uh-dur-mis)]

The outside layers of the skin.

The American Heritage® 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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