September 17, 2016
cutaneous (adjective)
\kyu-TAY-nee-us\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
: of, relating to, or affecting the skin
How do you use it?
"I found only one little toad. . . . It must necessarily depend on the dew for its moisture; and this probably absorbed through the skin, for it is known that these reptiles possess great powers of cutaneous absorption." (Charles Darwin, _Voyage of the Beagle_)
Are you a word wiz?

"Cutaneous" traces back to the Latin word "cutis," meaning "skin." Which of the words below do you think also has "cutis" at its root?

Here's the skinny on "cutis": it's the root word of both "cutaneous" and "cuticle." "Cuticle" (the name of the dead part of skin around a fingernail) comes from "cuticula," the diminutive form of "cutis." You missed by the skin of your teeth if you chose C, "epidermis," another word having to do with skin. "Epidermis" refers to the thin insensitive outermost layer of the skin. (It covers sensitive inner "dermis," which is also called the "cutis.") Like "cutaneous," "epidermis" comes from Latin, but it traces back to Greek. "Epidermis" was formed from the prefix "epi-," meaning "besides, after," and "derma," the Greek word for skin.
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