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(1) (anatomy) The external membranous integument of the body; the outer protective covering of (the body of) an organism.

(2) (botany) The integumentary covering, surface layer or outer casing such as the bark or husk of a plant and the exterior coat (peel) of fruits and vegetables.

(3) An animal pelt, e.g. of a small or young animal used by humans for clothing, upholstery, etc.

(4) A vessel made of animal skin, especially used for containing liquids.


(1) To strip off or remove skin from, as to skin an animal.

(2) To cover with (or as if) with skin, as to cover superficially.

(3) To bruise or injure the skin of.


In humans, the skin is the largest organ of the integumentary system. The role of the skin is vital to organisms as it protects the body (especially the underlying tissues) against pathogens and excessive water loss. It is also involved in providing insulation, temperature regulation and sensation.

Word origin: Icel. Skinn; akin to Sw. Skinn, Dan. Skind, AS. Scinn, G. Schined to skin.

See also: integumentary system

Related terms:

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