sphin·​go·​lip·​id ˌsfiŋ-gō-ˈli-pəd How to pronounce sphingolipid (audio)
plural sphingolipids
: any of a group of lipids (such as ceramide) found especially in plant and animal cell membranes that possess a chemical backbone of sphingosine or one of its derivatives, contribute to the structural integrity of cell membranes, and are involved in mediating various cellular processes (such as those affecting cell growth and differentiation, apoptosis, and intracellular signaling)
At least 300 different sphingolipids are synthesized in various mammalian cell types.Yusuf A. Hannun and Robert M. Bell
Elevated plasma levels of many of the sphingolipids have also been correlated with chronic disease …Oswald Quehenberger and Edward A. Dennis
see sphingolipidosis

Word History


sphingo- (in sphingosine) + lipid

First Known Use

1954, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of sphingolipid was in 1954

Dictionary Entries Near sphingolipid

Cite this Entry

“Sphingolipid.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sphingolipid. Accessed 29 Sep. 2023.

Medical Definition


sphin·​go·​lip·​id ˌsfiŋ-gō-ˈlip-əd How to pronounce sphingolipid (audio)
: any of a group of lipids (as sphingomyelins and cerebrosides) that yield sphingosine or one of its derivatives as one product of hydrolysis
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