acan·​tho·​ceph·​a·​lan ə-ˌkan(t)-thə-ˈse-fə-lən How to pronounce acanthocephalan (audio)
acanthocephalan adjective

Word History


New Latin Acanthocephala, taxon that includes the spiny-headed worms (from Greek ákantha "thorn, prickle, spine" + New Latin -o- -o- + -cephala, neuter plural of -cephalus "having a head of a given sort," borrowed from Greek -kephalos, derivative of kephalḗ "head") + -an entry 1 — more at acanthus, cephalic

First Known Use

circa 1889, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of acanthocephalan was circa 1889

Dictionary Entries Near acanthocephalan

Cite this Entry

“Acanthocephalan.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Apr. 2024.

Medical Definition


acan·​tho·​ceph·​a·​lan -lən How to pronounce acanthocephalan (audio)
: any of the phylum Acanthocephala of unsegmented parasitic worms

called also spiny-headed worm

acanthocephalan adjective

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