[em-buh-luh s]

noun, plural em·bo·li [em-buh-lahy] /ˈɛm bəˌlaɪ/. Pathology.

undissolved material carried by the blood and impacted in some part of the vascular system, as thrombi or fragments of thrombi, tissue fragments, clumps of bacteria, protozoan parasites, fat globules, or gas bubbles.

Origin of embolus

1660–70; < Latin: piston < Greek émbolos stopper, equivalent to em- em-2 + bólos a throw, akin to bállein to throw
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for embolus

Historical Examples of embolus

  • Success has followed opening the artery and removing the embolus.

    Manual of Surgery

    Alexis Thomson and Alexander Miles

  • The danger of an embolus plugging one of the smaller arteries is great and probably happens more often than we think.

    Arteriosclerosis and Hypertension:

    Louis Marshall Warfield

  • When this artery is blocked close to its origin by an embolus or thrombus, total aphasia results.

  • And yet the mere naming of the affliction eased her, although she had no conception of what an embolus might be.

    The Price of Love

    Arnold Bennett

  • She had still no conception of what an embolus was; but she naturally assumed that Louis could define an embolus with exactitude.

    The Price of Love

    Arnold Bennett

British Dictionary definitions for embolus


noun plural -li (-ˌlaɪ)

material, such as part of a blood clot or an air bubble, that is transported by the blood stream until it becomes lodged within a small vessel and impedes the circulationCompare thrombus

Word Origin for embolus

C17: via Latin from Greek embolos stopper, from emballein to insert, from ballein to throw; see emblem
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for embolus

1660s, "stopper, wedge," from Latin embolus "piston of a pump," from Greek embolos "peg, stopper; anything pointed so as to be easily thrust in," also "a tongue (of land), beak (of a ship)," from emballein (see emblem). Medical sense is from 1866. Related: Embolic.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

embolus in Medicine



n. pl. em•bo•li (-lī′)

A mass, such as an air bubble, detached blood clot, or foreign body, that travels in the bloodstream and lodges in a blood vessel, thus serving to obstruct or occlude such a vessel.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

embolus in Science



Plural emboli (ĕmbə-lī)

See embolism.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.