Definition of bilirubin in English:



mass nounBiochemistry
  • An orange-yellow pigment formed in the liver by the breakdown of haemoglobin and excreted in bile.

    • ‘Bilirubin accumulates in the body when the excretion of bilirubin in the bile cannot keep up with production.’
    • ‘A healthy liver filters bilirubin, a breakdown product of old red blood cells.’
    • ‘It means the liver cannot break down bilirubin, which can leave the sufferer jaundiced and lead to brain damage.’
    • ‘The liver plays an essential role in the metabolism of bilirubin and the excretion of its metabolites into the bile.’
    • ‘Normally, the liver processes this bilirubin and excretes it into the bowel through the bile duct.’


Late 19th century: coined in German from Latin bilis ‘bile’ + ruber ‘red’ + -in.