bis·​phos·​pho·​nate ˌbis-ˈfäs-fə-ˌnāt How to pronounce bisphosphonate (audio)
: any of a group of drugs that slow the breakdown of bone by osteoclasts

Examples of bisphosphonate in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Some antibiotics, bisphosphonates, and thyroid medications can interfere with calcium absorption or effectiveness. Amber Smith, Discover Magazine, 28 Aug. 2023 Magnesium supplements can decrease the absorption of certain medications, such as oral bisphosphonates, tetracycline and quinolone antibiotics. Willow Jarosh, Ms, Rd, Health, 27 June 2023 People who have had this kind of reaction should not take bisphosphonates again. Dr. Keith Roach, oregonlive, 15 Feb. 2023 Bone-Strengthening Drugs Drugs for osteoporosis known as bisphosphonates—including alendronate (Fosamax), ibandronate (Boniva), and risedronate (Actonel)—are notorious for causing heartburn.9 Some formulations that are taken less frequently may be easier on the stomach. Amanda Gardner, Health, 6 Mar. 2023 Severe bone, joint and muscle pain are rarely reported after taking both pill and infusion forms of bisphosphonate drugs. Dr. Keith Roach, oregonlive, 15 Feb. 2023 Advanced cases of osteoporosis require more potent pharmacologic therapy in addition to vitamin D and calcium, such as a bisphosphonate drug. Dr. Keith Roach, oregonlive, 4 Aug. 2022 The estimate is that for a person taking an oral bisphosphonate for five years, about 1 in 20,000 people will develop ONJ. Dr. Keith Roach, oregonlive, 16 June 2022 But who should use drugs called bisphosphonates is debatable. Marilynn Marchione, The Seattle Times, 1 Oct. 2018 See More

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

Word History


bis + phosphonic acid (an acid obtained from phosphine) + -ate entry 1

First Known Use

1961, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of bisphosphonate was in 1961

Dictionary Entries Near bisphosphonate

Cite this Entry

“Bisphosphonate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Sep. 2023.

Medical Definition


: any of a group of drugs (such as alendronate or etidronate) that slow the breakdown of bone by osteoclasts
… among the pharmacological approaches for treating osteoporosis, use of bisphosphonates increases bone mineral density and reduces the risk of vertebral fractures.Charles Marwick, The Journal of the American Medical Association

called also diphosphonate

Note: Bisphonates are analogs of pyrophosphate and contain two phosphate groups attached to a central carbon atom that replaces the oxygen atom in pyrophosphate.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!