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From Biology-Online Dictionary
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1. To produce, as figures or designs, on mental, glass, or the like, by means of lines or strokes eaten in or corroded by means of some strong acid.

The plate is first covered with varnish, or some other ground capable of resisting the acid, and this is then scored or scratched with a needle, or similar instrument, so as to form the drawing; the plate is then covered with acid, which corrodes the metal in the lines thus laid bare.

2. To subject to etching; to draw upon and bite with acid, as a plate of metal. I was etching a plate at the beginning of 1875. (Hamerton)

3. To sketch; to delineate. There are many empty terms to be found in some learned writes, to which they had recourse to etch out their system. (Locke)

Origin: D. Etsen, g. Atzen to feed, corrode, etch. MHG. Etzen, causative of ezzen to eat, g. Essen . See eat.