red blood cell

variants: or less commonly red blood corpuscle or red cell or red corpuscle

Definition of red blood cell 

: any of the hemoglobin-containing cells that carry oxygen to the tissues and in mammals are typically biconcave disks which lack a nucleus and cellular organelles and are formed from nucleated cells of the red bone marrow

Note: The number of red blood cells ranges from four to six million in each cubic millimeter of normal human blood. The red color of blood is due to the presence of hemoglobin within the red blood cells.

called also erythrocyte

— compare white blood cell

Examples of red blood cell in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

More than 2,000 nanoparticles could fit inside of a red blood cell. Erika Hayasaki, Newsweek, "Kanzius Cancer Machine Gets Its First Human Trial," 21 July 2015 During this type of donation, red blood cells are separated from other blood components, and the plasma and platelets are safely and comfortably returned to the donor. Alec Johnson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Blood drive to be held at Lake Country Lutheran High School in honor of Chris Buchmann, Wings of Angels founder," 3 Jan. 2018 Rubius is developing technology intended to turn our own red blood cells into potent new medicines., "Rubius Therapeutics to build manufacturing facility in R.I.," 29 June 2018 Luspatercept is designed to target a protein necessary to increase the production and maturation of late-stage red blood cells. Adam Feuerstein, STAT, "Acceleron blood disease drug hits goal in pivotal clinical trial," 28 June 2018 The high concentrations of the green bile pigment biliverdin in the blood overwhelms the crimson color of red blood cells resulting in a lime-green coloration of the muscles, bones, and mucosal tissues. Fox News, "Green-blooded lizards pose evolutionary puzzle," 16 May 2018 In 2009, Pechstein was barred from competing for two years because her blood showed an abnormal level of immature red blood cells. Juliet Macur, New York Times, "Claudia Pechstein Is a 45-Year-Old Olympian. So Why Is It So Tough to Cheer?," 12 Feb. 2018 The common topical anesthetic in teething gels, prays, ointments, and lozenges can lead to a serious and sometimes fatal condition called methemoglobinemia, in which red blood cells can no longer carry as much oxygen. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "Don't Use Baby Teething Medicine With Benzocaine, the FDA Warns," 23 May 2018 The condition most often arises when a woman with an Rh-negative blood type becomes pregnant with a baby who has Rh-positive blood, and the incompatibility causes the mother’s body to reject the fetus’s red blood cells. Amy B Wang, Washington Post, "For six decades, ‘the man with the golden arm’ donated blood — and saved 2.4 million babies," 12 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'red blood cell.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of red blood cell

1850, in the meaning defined above

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Last Updated

23 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for red blood cell

The first known use of red blood cell was in 1850

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More Definitions for red blood cell

red blood cell


English Language Learners Definition of red blood cell

: a red-colored blood cell that carries oxygen from the lungs to other parts of the body

red blood cell


Kids Definition of red blood cell

: a tiny reddish cell of the blood that contains hemoglobin and carries oxygen from the lungs to the tissues

red blood cell


Medical Definition of red blood cell 

: any of the hemoglobin-containing cells that carry oxygen to the tissues and are responsible for the red color of vertebrate blood

called also erythrocyte, red blood corpuscle, red cell, red corpuscle

— compare white blood cell

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to reject or criticize sharply

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