Definition of enteral in US English:



  • (chiefly of nutrition) involving or passing through the intestine, either naturally via the mouth and esophagus, or through an artificial opening.

    Often contrasted with parenteral
    • ‘However, enteral feeding is withheld during monitoring with gastric tonometry because enteral feeding is thought to influence tonometric measurements.’
    • ‘If surgery cannot safely be postponed, parenteral or enteral hyperalimentation should be started.’
    • ‘Commonly, these infants need supplemental oxygen treatment for mild respiratory distress syndrome or parenteral nutrition until enteral feeds are established.’
    • ‘Forty patients will be randomly assigned to either standard enteral nutrition or standard enteral nutrition containing a probiotic.’
    • ‘This may range from nil by mouth with total enteral support to full oral route or a balance of the two.’


Early 20th century: from Greek enteron ‘intestine’ + -al, partly as a back-formation from parenteral.