1. Anatomy. the outer, nonvascular, nonsensitive layer of the skin, covering the true skin or corium.
  2. Zoology. the outermost living layer of an animal, usually composed of one or more layers of cells.
  3. Botany. a thin layer of cells forming the outer integument of seed plants and ferns.


  1. Also called: cuticle the thin protective outer layer of the skin, composed of stratified epithelial tissue
  2. the outer layer of cells of an invertebrate
  3. the outer protective layer of cells of a plant, which may be thickened by a cuticle

1620s, from Greek epidermis, from epi “on” (see epi-) + derma “skin” (see derma). Related: Epidermal; epidermic.


  1. The nonvascular outer protective layer of the skin, covering the dermis.

  1. The protective outer layer of the skin. In invertebrate animals, the epidermis is made up of a single layer of cells. In vertebrates, it is made up of many layers of cells and overlies the dermis. Hair and feathers grow from the epidermis.
  2. The outer layer of cells of the stems, roots, and leaves of plants. In most plants, the epidermis is a single layer of cells set close together to protect the plant from water loss, invasion by fungi, and physical damage. The epidermis that is exposed to air is covered with a protective substance called cuticle. See more at photosynthesis.

The outside layers of the skin.

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