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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Exoskeleton \Ex`o*skel"e*ton\, n. [Exo- + skeleton] (Anat.) The hardened parts of the external integument of an animal, including hair, feathers, nails, horns, scales, etc.,as well as the armor of armadillos and many reptiles, and the shells or hardened integument of numerous invertebrates; external skeleton; dermoskeleton.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

1841, from exo- + skeleton. Said to have been introduced by English anatomist Sir Richard Owen (1804-1892). Related: Exoskeletal.


n. (context anatomy English) A hard outer structure that provides both structure and protection to creatures such as insects and Crustacea.


n. the exterior protective or supporting structure or shell of many animals (especially invertebrates) including bony or horny parts such as nails or scales or hoofs


An exoskeleton (from Greek έξω, éxō "outer" and σκελετός, skeletos "skeleton") is the external skeleton that supports and protects an animal's body, in contrast to the internal skeleton ( endoskeleton) of, for example, a human. In usage, some of the larger kinds of exoskeletons are known as " shells". Examples of animals with exoskeletons include insects such as grasshoppers and cockroaches, and crustaceans such as crabs and lobsters. The shells of certain sponges and the various groups of shelled molluscs, including those of snails, clams, tusk shells, chitons and nautilus, are also exoskeletons. Some animals, such as the tortoise, have both an endoskeleton and an exoskeleton.

Usage examples of "exoskeleton".

The professionals one could tell miles off, it was unmistakable: the hard exoskeleton and all the intent personal hatreds, the love of tools, the care, the fastidiousness.

As if, he thought, their physical shapes no longer functioned adequately, as if, like archaic, malformed exoskeletons, they were now in the process of being discarded.

On the one hand, such technologies freeze memories with all the rigidity of old Victorian sepia family portraits, providing an exoskeleton which prevents them from maturing and transforming themselves as they would do if untrammeled and without constant external cues within our own internal memory systems.

While your experiments with exoskeletons have been amusing, the fact that they lack any true artistry bores me.

Mirrors, visors glittering and black armor dusted with pollen like the exoskeletons of alien insects, crested the rise in a lazy, bunched swarm.

A vehicle with a strong resemblance to one of the twentieth-century internal combustion automobiles now visible only in museums and parades, it had been gengineered from an insect by enlarging the body and legs, reinforcing the exoskeleton with an internal framework modeled on--but stronger than--that of mammals, and creating a passenger compartment in the abdomen.

Dozens of trilobites were arrayed around it, ranging in size from the inch-long kind to the three-footers with their baroquely involuted exoskeletons.

They haplessly enter the stream of destiny, a wall of chitinous exoskeleton material sieved through the filter-feeding whales on their round-trip journeys from north to south.

The local bugs also used an aramid polymer, similar in some respects to Kevlar, as the hard core of their exoskeletons.

Their long, willowy forms, awkwardly arranged on the too-short biobeds, were equally alien, their black, chitinous exoskeletons reminding him of a cross between hardwood saplings and giant versions of the crustaceans his father sometimes caught on Invernia II.

In the thinned remainder of the web's air, the docking subnode's hollowed exoskeleton collapsed silently, the translucent broken pieces thrust aside by Boba Fett's forearm.

Their carapaces cracked open and released a rain of hideous monsters that seemed to be all spines and armored exoskeletons and clacking jaws.

The outer layer – reflecting yet counterpoising the harsh exoskeleton we all display – is hard, thin, yet somehow brittle – but beneath this a softer layer awaits, yet of the same shape and almost the same size.

Skirrik of all ages—from the dewiest youths (antennas just budding, the only jet they had the hatchday triangle set between their triune eyes) to ancient females, their burnished exoskeletons a deep purple with scarlet glows.

The big antiaircraft gun bucked and shook, but thanks to Wohl's exoskeleton, he was able to keep the weapon fairly steady.