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noun, plural: phospholipids

(1) A lipid with one or more phosphate groups attached to it.

(2) A lipid consisting of a glycerol bound to two fatty acids and a phosphate group.


Phospholipids are amphipathic compounds in a way that the 'head' is hydrophilic and the lipophilic 'tail' is hydrophobic. They serve as a major structural component of most biological membranes. They form the lipid bilayer in cell membranes of organisms.

Examples of phospholipids include phosphatidylethanolamine, phosphatidylinositol, phosphatidylserine, lecithin, plasmalogens and sphingomyelins.

Word origin: phosphor- » from phosphorus + -lipid » from Greek lipos, fat.

Variant: phospholipide
Also called: phosphatide, phospholipin

Related terms: