AskDefine | Define deerskin

Dictionary Definition

deerskin n : leather from the hide of a deer

User Contributed Dictionary


Alternative forms


From deer + skin.


  1. Made from deer leather or hide.
    Nichole wore a pair of deerskin gloves because she said she could feel more through them.


  1. Leather made from deer hide.
    The moccasin maker had a pile of deer-skin on the table, waiting to be cut out.
  2. The hide, whether tanned or not, of one deer.
    The hunter exchanged twenty deerskins for a bottle of whiskey at the trading post.
  3. An article of clothing manufactured from deerskin. Often constructed in the plural.
    The trapper wore deerskins because they were softer than cow leather garments and rustled less than canvas.

See also

Extensive Definition

Deerskin is a dark fantasy novel by Robin McKinley. It is based on an old French fairy tale by Charles Perrault called Donkeyskin.
The book contains a graphic rape scene and numerous adult themes.

Plot summary

As the daughter of the most beautiful queen and most handsome king in all the land, Princess Lissar was a lonely child whose only true companion was her dog, Ash. After her mother's death, the king becomes obsessed with his daughter, who looks exactly like her mother. He decides that he will marry her. When she refuses him, the king rapes Lissar and severely injures Ash.
Lissar and Ash escape from the king and find their way to a cabin in the mountains. Lissar, impregnated by the king, miscarries and nearly dies. Lissar is saved by a moon goddess, who gives her a white deerskin dress (referenced in the title) and changes both the princess and the dog to make them unrecognizable. Lissar travels to a different kingdom and offers to work for the king. The prince, Ossin, finds her a job working with the king's hounds. There she saves a litter of orphaned puppies.
The goddess's alterations, however, were more than physical. Lissar, now identified as Deerskin, discovers that she has supernatural powers, including the ability to find lost children and objects. While with Ossin, she falls in love with him and he with her. However, burdened by her past, she runs from Ossin and returns to the cabin in the mountains with Ash and the puppies.
Eventually, Deerskin is forced to decide her life's path. She returns to Ossin's city, following an urgent call. As she nears the city, she hears about a wedding and assumes that it is Ossin's. However, when she arrives, she realizes to her horror that the king, her father, is going to marry Ossin's younger sister. Deerskin reveals that she is her father's daughter and calls him to account for his actions, using the goddess's powers to punish him for his crimes. Lissar, finally free to accept Ossin's love, resumes her former identity. The story ends with Lissar tentatively coming back to Ossin's arms, offering to give their relationship a chance.
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