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[ek-soh-skel-i-tn] /ˌɛk soʊˈskɛl ɪ tn/
noun, Zoology
an external covering or integument, especially when hard, as the shells of crustaceans (opposed to endoskeleton).
1840-50; exo- + skeleton
Related forms
exoskeletal, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for exoskeleton
  • The bag is then placed within a cardboard box, which serves as a sort of exoskeleton protecting the bag.
  • Likewise, in colder years average exoskeleton thickness shrank.
  • Since their exoskeleton is not shed, molluscan shells must enlarge to accommodate body growth.
  • Once the parasite lands on a crab, it makes its way to a joint in the crustacean's exoskeleton.
  • Thanks to fine volcanic ash, however, this spider was squashed without breaking up its delicate exoskeleton.
  • The arthropod body is completely encased in an exoskeleton.
  • With all that weight you may want to put in electric motors and turn the thing into a powered exoskeleton.
  • The creatures have an exoskeleton, two claws at the end of each leg, and live either in burrows or in treetop nests.
  • To control the exoskeleton, he envisaged a network of brain-scanning sensors in the helmet.
  • It can alter the flow of fluid in its exoskeleton, scientists recently revealed.
British Dictionary definitions for exoskeleton


the protective or supporting structure covering the outside of the body of many animals, such as the thick cuticle of arthropods Compare endoskeleton
Derived Forms
exoskeletal, 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
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Word Origin and History for exoskeleton

1847, from exo- + skeleton. Introduced by English anatomist Sir Richard Owen (1804-1892).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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exoskeleton in Medicine

exoskeleton ex·o·skel·e·ton (ěk'sō-skěl'ĭ-tn)

  1. All hard parts, such as hair, teeth, and nails, that develop from the ectoderm or mesoderm in vertebrates.

  2. A hard outer structure, such as the shell of an insect, that provides protection or support for an organism.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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exoskeleton in Science
A hard, protective outer body covering of an animal, such as an insect, crustacean, or mollusk. The exoskeletons of insects and crustaceans are largely made of chitin. Compare endoskeleton.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Encyclopedia Article for exoskeleton

rigid or articulated envelope that supports and protects the soft tissues of certain animals. The term includes the calcareous housings of sessile invertebrates such as clams but is most commonly applied to the chitinous integument of arthropods, such as insects, spiders, and crustaceans. The arthropod exoskeleton, formed from the epidermis, is composed of an outer waxy, water-resistant layer over chitinous horny and flexible layers. In terrestrial species this covering has small breathing holes (spiracles). By preventing dehydration the exoskeleton has allowed arthropods, especially insects, to invade most terrestrial habitats. The flexible joints in the exoskeleton of creatures such as the lobster allow great freedom of movement. An exoskeleton does not grow; it must be molted regularly and a new one secreted, at which time the animal is soft and vulnerable to both predators and environmental changes

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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