aceph·​a·​lous | \ (ˌ)ā-ˈse-fə-ləs How to pronounce acephalous (audio) , ə-ˈse- \

Definition of acephalous

1 : lacking a head or having the head reduced
2 : lacking a governing head or chief

Did You Know?

The English word acephalous was borrowed from Medieval Latin, in which it meant "headless" and was chiefly used to describe clerics not under a bishop or lines of verse having the first foot missing or abbreviated. The fountainhead of these meanings is the Greek word kephalē, meaning "head." Other English descendants of kephalē include cephalic, meaning "of or relating to the head" or "directed toward or situated on or in or near the head," and encephalitis, meaning "inflammation of the brain."

First Known Use of acephalous

1715, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for acephalous

borrowed from Medieval Latin acephalus "headless" (originally alluding to clerics not under a bishop), going back to Latin, "lacking the first syllable, in metrics," borrowed from Greek aképhalos, from a- a- entry 2 + -kephalos, adjective derivative of kephalḗ "head" — more at cephalic

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The first known use of acephalous was in 1715

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Cite this Entry

“Acephalous.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Jan. 2021.

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aceph·​a·​lous | \ (ˈ)ā-ˈsef-ə-ləs How to pronounce acephalous (audio) , ə-ˈsef- How to pronounce acephalous (audio) \

Medical Definition of acephalous

: lacking a head or having the head reduced

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