Definition of embolus in English:



  • A blood clot, air bubble, piece of fatty deposit, or other object which has been carried in the bloodstream to lodge in a vessel and cause an embolism.

    • ‘The emboli lodge in lung capillaries where they obstruct pulmonary blood flow.’
    • ‘If the embolus reaches a blood vessel it cannot flow through, a blockage occurs.’
    • ‘The embolus is carried in the blood stream until it gets stuck in a place where it forms a blockage.’
    • ‘Leg clots with pulmonary emboli and bed sores must be prevented.’
    • ‘Spiral computed tomography scans are more reliable but diagnosis is limited to emboli in larger vessels only.’
    lump, clump, mass, curdling
    View synonyms


Mid 17th century (denoting something inserted or moving within another, specifically the plunger of a syringe): from Latin, literally ‘piston’, from Greek embolos ‘peg, stopper’. The current sense dates from the mid 19th century.