an·​en·​ceph·​a·​ly ˌan-(ˌ)en-ˈse-fə-lē How to pronounce anencephaly (audio)
plural anencephalies
: congenital absence of all or a major part of the brain
anencephalic adjective

Examples of anencephaly in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Then a 20-week ultrasound revealed the inconceivable: Large portions of the brain and skull were missing, a rare birth defect called anencephaly. Angie Leventis Lourgos,, 10 June 2019 From 2010 to 2016, in Central Washington, cases of anencephaly — in which babies are born missing part of the brain and skull — were detected at a rate far higher than the national average. Jonel Aleccia, The Seattle Times, 16 Oct. 2018 Our much-wanted baby was diagnosed with anencephaly, a fatal condition. Josephine Sedgwick, New York Times, 9 July 2018 Three weeks earlier, a routine scan revealed that her baby had anencephaly, a fatal defect in which part of the brain and skull isn't fully formed. Sheena McKenzie, CNN, 22 May 2018 The stillborn baby had a rare condition called anencephaly, in which the brain and the skull fails to develop properly. Laura Yan, Popular Mechanics, 2 June 2018 These defects occur in the first month of a pregnancy and include conditions that impact the brain, skull, and spine, like spina bifida and anencephaly, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Cassie Shortsleeve, SELF, 19 Apr. 2018 Shane, who was diagnosed with anencephaly, a birth defect that causes part of the brain and skull to be missing, died shortly after he was born on October 9. Kelly Potts, Woman's Day, 11 Nov. 2014 Glory Faye Vinci was born March 14, 2017 with anencephaly, a condition that prevents the brain from developing normally. Gus Chan,, 15 Apr. 2018

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'anencephaly.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


a- entry 2 + encephal- + -y entry 2

First Known Use

1831, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of anencephaly was in 1831

Dictionary Entries Near anencephaly

Cite this Entry

“Anencephaly.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 2024.

Medical Definition


an·​en·​ceph·​a·​ly ˌan-(ˌ)en-ˈsef-ə-lē How to pronounce anencephaly (audio)
plural anencephalies
: congenital absence of all or a major part of the brain

More from Merriam-Webster on anencephaly

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!