Definition of skin in English:

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Pronunciation: /skɪn/


1The thin layer of tissue forming the natural outer covering of the body of a person or animal: I use body lotion to keep my skin supple [mass noun]: a flap of skin
More example sentences
  • Typical teen problems like zits had not touched his flawless pale skin.
  • His lightly muscled tanned bare skin glistened in the sun and he felt very much like an article on display.
  • The light never touched his soft, tan skin.
epidermis, dermis
technical cuticle, cutis, corium, derma, derm, integument, tegument
complexion, colouring, skin colour, skin tone, pigmentation
1.1The skin of a dead animal with or without the fur, used as material for clothing or other items: [mass noun]: is this real crocodile skin?
More example sentences
  • The Inuit made all their clothing from various animal skins and hides.
  • The Sun Dance ceremony practised by Plains Indians required the skins of dead animals in order to glorify the spirit of the wolf.
  • He doffed his cap, also made from the skin of a dead animal - I later learned it was a raccoon.
hide, pelt, fleece;
Australian  greenhide
technical crop, kip
archaic fell
1.2A container made from the skin of an animal such as a goat, used for holding liquids: a skin filled with water
More example sentences
  • He instead took the job of filling their water skins.
  • He had finished washing his knife and had started filling up their water skins for the night.
  • The water skin filled, quickly, and out of the top a stream of water burst out.
2An outer layer or covering, in particular:
Example sentences
  • Meanwhile, thick layers of slate-colored skins began covering their exposed muscles.
  • Islam is just the outer skin of an onion covering animism, Hinduism and other ancient mysteries.
  • The distinctive bumpy skins are used to cover up wounds and to protect them from infection while they heal.
2.1The peel or outer layer of certain fruits or vegetables: potatoes roasted in their skins
More example sentences
  • Wheat bran and the skins of fruits and vegetables are sources of insoluble fiber.
  • Peel the skin from the roast pepper halves and cut the stem off the aubergine halves.
  • Simply peel away the outer skin of the kiwi and place in a hard-cooked egg slicer.
peel, rind, outside
technical integument
2.2The thin outer covering of a sausage: if you are using link-sausages, prick the skins well with a fork
More example sentences
  • In developing countries gut skins dominate the sausage market.
  • Then, I imagine, it is pumped into sausage skins and served in a bun smothered in ketchup and mustard.
  • It is a pudding in the old sense of something enclosed in a sausage skin.
2.3A thin layer forming on the surface of certain hot liquids, such as milk, as they cool: Victoria was skimming the skin off the saucepan of milk
More example sentences
  • To make matters worse, spinach was often on the menu and there was a skin on the milk they served for breakfast.
  • It is chilly enough that where the water is calm a skin of ice has formed.
  • Air must be excluded from the can by a tight-fitting lid, or a skin can form in the can.
film, coating, coat, layer, overlay;
technical pellicle
2.4 informal A cigarette paper: I passed her a plastic bag with skins and hash inside
2.5The outermost layer of a structure such as a building or aircraft.
Example sentences
  • The hole in the floor was covered with a sliding panel flush with the aircraft's skin.
  • With the wing structure complete, the wings were then covered with aircraft grade mahogany skin.
  • The longerons were good and did not need replacement but we did replace some skins on the lower fuselage.
casing, cover, covering, exterior, pod
2.6 (usually skins) A strip of sealskin or other material attached to the underside of a ski to prevent a skier slipping backwards during climbing.
Example sentences
  • The route got steeper and we put climbing skins (strips of special fur) on our ski bottoms.
  • Attach climbing skins to your skis and up you go.
  • We stripped off the synthetic climbing skins from our skis.
3British informal A skinhead: we were surrounded by skins with tattoos and braces
More example sentences
  • They were surrounded by a devoted crowd of aging skins, punks & Goths worshipping at the church of Sioux.
  • As for punks 'n' skins in Derby, there's hardly any.
  • From my experiences, punks & skins generally get along OK.
4 (usually skins) informal (Especially in jazz) a drum or drum head.
Example sentences
  • Drummer Ste Barrow is frantically searching for a replacement having just split the skin on his bass drum.
  • Weiss pulverizes the skins, and the guitars of Brownstein and Tucker play off of one another with furious intensity.
  • Carved from tweneboa, a Ghanaian cedar tree, the drums have fragile skins and tuning pegs.
5 [as modifier] informal Relating to or denoting pornographic literature or films: the skin trade
More example sentences
  • This is undoubtedly one of the best, most bedazzling films of his skin show career.
6 [mass noun] US A card game in which each player has one card which they bet will not be the first to be matched by a card dealt from the pack.
7 Computing A customized graphic user interface for an application or operating system.
Example sentences
  • They swapped modding techniques and hundreds of custom skins over the website message board.
  • The white console is customisable too, with the ability to swap everything from the console's faceplate to the skins on the software interface.
  • For example, will it be possible to use custom skins or will you release tools to allow users to build custom levels?
8Australian A unit into which an Aboriginal people is divided, typically on the basis of descent, each skin being associated with a totemic bird, animal, or insect.
Example sentences
  • Marriage or sexual relationships with any member of the other seven 'skins' are regarded as improper.
  • In combination with the kinship avoidance structure, there is the 'skin' system.
  • The logo was designed by a now deceased Gunwinggu man of the gamarrang subsection or 'skin' from the Born clan.

verb (skins, skinning, skinned)

[with object]
1Remove the skin from (an animal or a fruit or vegetable): scald and skin the tomatoes she skinned the pig and salted the carcass
More example sentences
  • Cows are still skinned and dismembered alive, and pigs are still scalded to death, just like chickens are.
  • He is shown feeding the sheep and skinning a rabbit.
  • Then, when he had finished, he got Zi to help him skin the deer and preserve the meat, in case they ever ran out of food.
peel, pare, hull
technical decorticate
2Graze (a part of one’s body): he scrambled down from the tree with such haste that he skinned his knees
More example sentences
  • I'm thinking about skinning my knee, getting rug burns or ‘Indian’ burns, things like that.
  • If you fell and skinned your knee or caught a cold, it was because God had seen you do something wrong.
  • I, however, did seriously skin both my knees and so completely stuff myself it took about 2 hours to recover.
graze, scrape, abrade, bark, cut, rub something raw, chafe
technical excoriate
3 [no object] (Of a wound) form new skin: the hole in his skull skinned over
More example sentences
  • My guess is that the stain is too thickly applied and has skinned over.
3.1 [with object] archaic Cover with skin: the wound was skinned, but the strength of his thigh was not restored
4 informal Take money from or swindle (someone): I ain’t no dummy, and I know when I’m being skinned
More example sentences
  • The gimmick has generated so much publicity, Mercury is trying to devise an equivalent design - without skinning the author - for the planned 5,000 book run.
  • Inevitably then, it can only financially top up local authorities by skinning you and I to an even deeper extent than it is already doing.
5 Soccer , informal (Of a player) take the ball past (a defender) with ease: Kanchelskis would have skinned him
More example sentences
  • Taking Colgan's pass, he skinned two defenders for pace, shipped another tackle and popped over with the inside of his left boot.
  • Ballack set him free with subtle chip over the top, and Klose skinned the out-rushing keeper before slotting it home with ease.
  • Part of the problem was traced back to one high-rolling casino player who managed to skin the firm for £3m.
6 [no object] (skin up) British informal Make a cannabis cigarette: we had a few beers and then we skinned up
More example sentences
  • At the end of a hard days work I like nothing more than to skin up a joint and get high.
  • I then visualised myself sitting in a desert, skinning up two joints, one for me, and one for Bast.
  • Let's kick off with some suitably chilled warm-up music, while you pitch your virtual tent and skin up a virtual fat one.



be skin and bone

(Of a person or animal) be very thin: she was nothing but skin and bone
More example sentences
  • She was the thinnest fox he had ever seen, practically skin and bone.
  • Posh Spice isn't all that - she's all skin and bone and she's got horrible spots.
  • I couldn't even tell what it was because it was skin and bone.

by the skin of one's teeth

By a very narrow margin; only just: I only got away by the skin of my teeth
From a misquotation of Job 19:20: ‘I am escaped with the skin of my teeth’ (i.e. and nothing else)
More example sentences
  • You have escaped from going to prison by the skin of your teeth.
  • ‘You have escaped prison by the skin of your teeth,’ the judge told him.
  • The Oxford University Pool Team has not lost to Cambridge since 1999, when the ‘rascal Tabs’ managed to grind out a 46-44 victory by the skin of their teeth.
only just, just, narrowly, by a hair's breadth, by a very small margin, by the narrowest of margins, barely, by a nose
informal by a whisker

get under someone's skin

1Annoy or irritate someone intensely: it was the sheer effrontery of them which got under my skin
More example sentences
  • What's most annoying is that it seems to get under your skin - not irritating like a rash, more like an itch that needs to be scratched.
  • What gets under our skin, aggravates, infuriates, frustrates and makes us hate is of the same seed that also begets love and divine revelation.
  • Ugh, someone here is getting under my skin, really starting to annoy me, and I can't put my figure on why/how exactly.
irritate, annoy, gall, irk, get/put someone's back up, pique, rankle with, nettle, needle, bother, vex, provoke, displease, upset, offend, affront, anger, exasperate, disgruntle, ruffle, get on someone's nerves, ruffle someone's feathers, make someone's hackles rise, raise someone's hackles, rub up the wrong way
informal peeve, aggravate, miff, get, get in someone's hair, get up someone's nose, hack off, get someone's goat
British informal nark, get on someone's wick, give someone the hump, wind up, get across
North American informal tick off, rankle, ride, gravel
vulgar slang piss off
British vulgar slang get on someone's tits
rare exacerbate, hump, rasp
2Fill someone’s mind in a compelling and persistent way: he had managed to get under my skin—I couldn’t wait to be with him
More example sentences
  • It gets under your skin and opens up a space that is filled by sadness and silence.
  • His intensely intimate music gets under your skin rather than grabbing you by the lapels.
  • We wanted to make a movie that slowly got under your skin, that was about building, inescapable dread.
obsess, intrigue, captivate, interest greatly, charm;
enthral, enchant, fill someone's mind, mesmerize, hypnotize, entrance
3Reach or display a deep understanding of someone: movies that get under the skin of the British national character
More example sentences
  • He changed his ways many years ago because a good, decent woman got under his skin and made him understand what love was all about.
  • Then he comes in contact with a woman who gets under his skin.
  • I know it's a cliche but I thought the author really managed to get under Clara 's skin in a way which made us empathise with her.

give someone (some) skin

US informal Shake or slap hands together as a gesture or friendship or solidarity: the Orioles might be giving each other skin until midnight
More example sentences
  • He raised up his hand, palm side down. "Give me some skin, brother." I stuck out my hand and smiled.
  • Remember the time he went to give me skin and I shook his hand!
  • 'Give me some skin on that one,' said Spencer, thrusting his palm toward Winston.

have skin in the game

US informal
Have a personal investment in an organization or undertaking, and therefore a vested interest in its success.
Example sentences
  • He said on "This Week" yesterday, everybody has got to have skin in the game.
  • It is for people who have skin in the game.
  • Sure, he had skin in the game.

have a thick (or thin) skin

Be insensitive (or oversensitive) to criticism or insults: the job called for a thick skin and an aggressive personality
More example sentences
  • Chairmen and chief executives need to have a thick skin and take justified criticism of their companies in the way it is intended.
  • Del Ponte dismissed the criticism: ‘He who does not have a thick skin should choose another field of work,’ she said.
  • I don't have a thick skin naturally, but I've had to at times.

it's no skin off my nose (or US off my back)

informal Used to indicate that one is not offended or adversely affected by something: ‘I’ve not much appetite, I’m afraid.’ ‘No skin off my nose.’
More example sentences
  • I mean, it's no skin off my nose if Greenwald and screenwriter Ernest Thompson (On Golden Pond) wanted to go with such a formalist framework.
  • Look, it's no skin off my nose - he's not after me, so I couldn't care less.
  • When I say ‘it's no skin off my nose ‘, there is an immediate context that gives the expression more meaning.
I don't care, I don't mind, I'm not bothered, it doesn't bother me, it doesn't matter to me, it's of no concern to me, it's of no importance to me
informal I don't give/care a damn/hoot/toss/rap, I don't give a monkey's
vulgar slang I don't give a shit

keep (or sleep in) a whole skin

archaic Escape being wounded or injured: if he means to keep a whole skin on his bones, I recommend him not to come back in a hurry
More example sentences
  • It is agreeable to keep a whole skin; but the skin still remains an organ sensitive to the atmosphere.
  • But were concerned rather in keeping a whole skin by parlaying or by spilling cowardly tears to excite pity.
  • For if he wanted to be safe, and considered it his first object to sleep in a whole skin, it had been his best way not to have stirred from home.

make someone's skin crawl (or creep)

Cause someone to experience an uncomfortable sensation of horror or disgust.
Example sentences
  • A clerk innocently used a word to describe a section of books that made Cisneros 's skin crawl.
  • The mere knowledge that I talked to you makes Greg 's skin crawl, and I'm not going to hurt him by meeting you.
  • Justin was, well, Justin, and the thought of him doing that with Rebecca was enough to make Michael 's skin crawl.

skin and blister

British rhyming slang One’s sister.
Example sentences
  • As it happens ‘twin sister’ fits well with ‘skin and blister’ doesn't it?

skin (one's) teeth

West Indian Laugh or smile: Ambrose skinned his teeth, but didn’t laugh out loud
More example sentences
  • I took the same seat that I was just in and skinned my teeth.
  • Benoit's fish is lovely, but it's Leo's soup that skins our teeth.

there's more than one way to skin a cat

proverb There’s more than one way of achieving one’s aim.
Example sentences
  • Harry Briggs, City of York councillor for Haxby, said: ‘Maybe people in Haxby have got more brains, after all there's more than one way to skin a cat.’
  • You learn as you get older there's more than one way to skin a cat.
  • Maybe those dummies in their corporate towers have finally gotten the message and realised that there's more than one way to skin a cat.

under the skin

In reality, as opposed to superficial appearances: he still believes that all women are goddesses under the skin
More example sentences
  • There is something chilling in the will for violence latent under the skin of our society - and it is not an appetite which should be fed.
  • We're in the tradition of journalists going out and trying to get under the skin of the country.
  • This well-crafted documentary probes under the skin of taxidermy and finds much more than glass eyes and straw.



Pronunciation: /ˈskɪnləs/
Example sentences
  • Chop three boneless, skinless chicken breasts into cubes.
  • I even came home and cooked up a slew of skinless, frozen chicken breasts for lunch this week.
  • Some lean meat morsels you may want to munch include skinless cuts of roasted, baked or broiled poultry and seafood.


Example sentences
  • As Sammy's, the place is still a warehouse-like box, with a strangely skin-like material decorating outdoor areas and an identical volleyball setup.
  • You felt like a child or baby walking shoeless through the skin-like membrane.
  • Approximately 25 cm long, the animal has a flat tail surrounded by a skin-like fin which is used for swimming.


Late Old English scinn, from Old Norse skinn; related to Dutch schinden 'flay, peel' and German schinden.

  • Old Scandinavian gave us skin in the later Old English period—the word used until then was hide. The expression by the skin of your teeth arose from a misquotation from the biblical book of Job: ‘I am escaped with the skin of my teeth.’ The implication is ‘and nothing else’. See also beauty. The skinhead is associated with the Britain of the 1970s, but the first skinheads were American. In the 1950s recruits to the US Marines were known as skinheads because of the severe way their hair was cropped when they joined up. The colloquial word skint first found in the 1920s is a variant of colloquial skinned used in the same sense.

Words that rhyme with skin

agin, akin, begin, Berlin, bin, Boleyn, Bryn, chin, chin-chin, Corinne, din, fin, Finn, Flynn, gaijin, Glyn, grin, Gwyn, herein, Ho Chi Minh, in, inn, Jin, jinn, kin, Kweilin, linn, Lynn, mandolin, mandoline, Min, no-win, pin, Pinyin, quin, shin, sin, spin, therein, thin, Tientsin, tin, Tonkin, Turin, twin, underpin, Vietminh, violin, wherein, whin, whipper-in, win, within, Wynne, yin

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: skin

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