follow Dictionary.com

11 Trending Words of 2014

lichen

[lahy-kuh n] /ˈlaɪ kən/
noun
1.
any complex organism of the group Lichenes, composed of a fungus in symbiotic union with an alga and having a greenish, gray, yellow, brown, or blackish thallus that grows in leaflike, crustlike, or branching forms on rocks, trees, etc.
2.
Pathology. any of various eruptive skin diseases.
verb (used with object)
3.
to cover with or as if with lichens.
Origin
1595-1605
1595-1605; < Latin līchēn < Greek leichḗn
Related forms
lichenization, noun
lichenlike, adjective
unlichened, adjective
Can be confused
lichen, liken.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source
Examples from the web for lichen
  • Forest floors are covered with ferns and mosses and the trees themselves drip with lichen.
  • And the bark beneath the white lichen that always covers it is reddish too.
  • The trees are coming into their winter bareness, the only green is the lichen on their branches.
  • After milking, they release them to graze on lichen.
  • The white-washed walls are damp, streaked with lichen growing around the edges of the cement floor.
  • Rusting nails and lichen on ancient concrete with weeds scraping a living through the cracks.
  • Only certain algae and fungi can get together to form a lichen.
British Dictionary definitions for lichen

lichen

/ˈlaɪkən; ˈlɪtʃən/
noun
1.
an organism that is formed by the symbiotic association of a fungus and an alga or cyanobacterium and occurs as crusty patches or bushy growths on tree trunks, bare ground, etc. Lichens are now classified as a phylum of fungi (Mycophycophyta)
2.
(pathol) any of various eruptive disorders of the skin
Derived Forms
lichened, adjective
lichen-like, adjective
lichenoid, adjective
lichenous, lichenose, adjective
Word Origin
C17: via Latin from Greek leikhēn, from leikhein to lick
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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for lichen
n.

c.1600, from Latin lichen, from Greek leichen, originally "what eats around itself," probably from leichein "to lick" (see lick). Originally used of liverwort; the modern sense first recorded 1715. Related: Lichenaceous.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
lichen in Medicine

lichen li·chen (lī'kən)
n.
Any of various skin diseases characterized by patchy eruptions of small, firm papules.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Cite This Source
lichen in Science
lichen
  (lī'kən)   
The mutualistic symbiotic association of a fungus with an alga or a cyanobacterium, or both. The fungal component of a lichen absorbs water and nutrients from the surroundings and provides a suitable environment for the alga or cyanobacterium. These live protected among the dense fungal hyphae and produce carbohydrates for the fungus by photosynthesis. Owing to this partnership, lichens can thrive in harsh environments such as mountaintops and polar regions. The more familiar lichens grow slowly as crusty patches, but lichens are found in a variety of forms, such as the tall, plantlike reindeer moss. The association between the different organisms in a lichen is so close that lichens are routinely referred to as a single organism, and scientists classify lichens using the name of the fungal component.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for lichen

Most English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for lichen

11
13
Scrabble Words With Friends

Quotes with lichen

Nearby words for lichen