am·​phi·​phil·​ic ˌam(p)-fə-ˈfi-lik How to pronounce amphiphilic (audio)
: of, relating to, or being a compound (such as a surfactant) consisting of molecules having a polar water-soluble group attached to a water-insoluble hydrocarbon chain
also : being a molecule of such a compound
amphiphile noun

Examples of amphiphilic in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Chemists probably already know that these amphiphilic stabilizers are often a surfactant—a small molecule with a hydrophobic end and a hydrophilic end, such as those in detergents. IEEE Spectrum, 16 Mar. 2022 There are, of course, conventional emulsions that are mixtures of unmixable liquids that are stabilized by some amphiphilic (not quite hydrophobic, not quite hydrophilic) substance. IEEE Spectrum, 16 Mar. 2022 Emulsifiers like mustard or egg yolk are amphiphilic, as are some chemicals used as part of soap. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, 6 May 2023 This is called the fermentation process, whereby lactose in the milk is converted to lactic acid, which lowers the pH. When the pH drops below pH 5, micelles of caseins, which are amphiphilic proteins, loses its tertiary structure due to the protonation of its amino acid residues. Ashton Yoon, Discover Magazine, 4 July 2017 This article reviews several examples of systems with such characteristics that have been studied, focusing on chemical systems containing amphiphilic molecules. Sean Carroll, Discover Magazine, 18 Nov. 2010 Our ever-present, super-affordable, totally amphiphilic friend SOAP is here to save us all. Heather Arndt Anderson, Sunset Magazine, 12 Mar. 2020 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'amphiphilic.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


amphi- + -philic

First Known Use

1948, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of amphiphilic was in 1948

Dictionary Entries Near amphiphilic

Cite this Entry

“Amphiphilic.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Dec. 2023.

Medical Definition


am·​phi·​phil·​ic ˌam-fə-ˈfil-ik How to pronounce amphiphilic (audio)
: of, relating to, consisting of, or being one or more molecules (as of a glycolipid or sphingolipid) in a biological membrane having a polar water-soluble terminal group attached to a water-insoluble hydrocarbon chain
amphiphile noun
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