AskDefine | Define cuticle

Dictionary Definition



1 the outer layer of the skin covering the exterior body surface of vertebrates [syn: epidermis]
2 hard outer covering or case of certain organisms such as arthropods and turtles [syn: carapace, shell]

User Contributed Dictionary



From etyl la cuticula


  1. The outermost layer of the skin of vertebrates; the epidermis.
  2. The strip of hardened skin at the base and sides of a fingernail or toenail.
  3. Dead or cornified epidermis.
  4. In the context of "zoology|botany": The outer protective covering of invertebrates and plants.


Derived terms


Extensive Definition

In biology, the term cuticle or cuticula is given to a variety of tough but flexible, non-mineral outer coverings of an organism, or part of an organism, that provide protection. They are non-homologous, differing in their origin, structure and chemical composition.

In human anatomy

In human anatomy, cuticle refers to several structures. It refers to the dead layers of epidermal cells or keratinocytes that produce the horn protein keratin, to the strip of dead skin cells at the base and sides of the fingernail, to the eponychium, and also to the superficial layer of overlapping cells covering the hair shaft (cuticula pili) that locks the hair into its follicle.

In invertebrate zoology

In zoology, the invertebrate cuticle or cuticula is a multi-layered structure outside the epidermis of many invertebrates, notably roundworms and arthropods, in which it forms an exoskeleton. The main structural components of the nematode cuticle are proteins, highly cross-linked collagens and specialised insoluble proteins known as "cuticlins", together with glycoproteins and lipids.
The main structural component of arthropod cuticle is a polysaccharide, chitin, composed of N-acetylglucosamine units, together with proteins and lipids.

In botany

In botany, plant cuticles are protective waxy coverings produced by the epidermal cells of leaves, young shoots and all other aerial plant organs.
The main structural components of plant cuticles are the unique polymers cutin and/or cutan, impregnated with wax.
The cuticles of plants function as permeability barriers for water and water-soluble materials. The cuticle both prevents plant surfaces from becoming wet and helps to prevent plants from drying out. Xerophytic plants such as cactus have very thick cuticles to help them survive in their arid climates. Plants that live in range of sea's spray also tend to have thicker cuticles, to protect them from the toxic effects of salt.


cuticle in Czech: Kutikula
cuticle in German: Cuticula
cuticle in Esperanto: Kutiklo
cuticle in French: Cuticule (métazoaire)
cuticle in Dutch: Cuticula
cuticle in Japanese: クチクラ
cuticle in Portuguese: Cutícula
cuticle in Russian: Кутикула
cuticle in Simple English: Cuticle
cuticle in Slovak: Kutikula
cuticle in Finnish: Kutikula
cuticle in Ukrainian: Кутикула безхребетних

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Leatherette, Leatheroid, coat, dermis, fell, fleece, flesh, fur, furring, hide, imitation fur, imitation leather, integument, jacket, leather, leather paper, outer layer, outer skin, pelt, peltry, rawhide, rind, sheath, skin, skins, tegument, vair
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