ce·​re·​bral | \ sə-ˈrē-brəl How to pronounce cerebral (audio) , ˈser-ə- How to pronounce cerebral (audio) , ˈse-rə- \

Definition of cerebral

1a : of or relating to the brain or the intellect
b : of, relating to, affecting, or being the cerebrum cerebral edema cerebral arteries
2a : appealing to intellectual appreciation cerebral drama
b : primarily intellectual in nature a cerebral society books for cerebral readers

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Other Words from cerebral

cerebrally \ sə-​ˈrē-​brə-​lē How to pronounce cerebrally (audio) , ˈser-​ə-​ , ˈse-​rə-​ \ adverb

Did You Know?

English borrowed its word cerebrum directly from the Latin word for "brain," but the adjective cerebral took a slightly more circuitous route into our language, reaching English by way of French cerebral. Cerebrum has been used in our language as a name for the brain since the early 1600s, though the more specific scientific sense, referring just to the large upper part of the brain, didn't develop until later. Cerebral has been appearing in print in English since at least 1816. Other brainy descendants of cerebrum in English include cerebellum (the part of the brain between the brain stem and the back of the cerebrum) and cerebrate, which arrived in English in 1915 with the meaning "to use the mind" or "to think."

Examples of cerebral in a Sentence

He's a very cerebral comedian. a very cerebral jurist who has given much thought to what makes our nation's constitution work
Recent Examples on the Web His own songs leaned toward the atypical structures and cerebral concepts of progressive rock. Jon Pareles, BostonGlobe.com, "Rupert Hine, synth-pop music producer," 19 June 2020 The risks of ascending too quickly can be potentially dire, even for healthy young soldiers, including pulmonary and cerebral edemas. James Griffiths, CNN, "Why are China and India fighting over an inhospitable strip of the Himalayas?," 17 June 2020 His keyboard personality can be cerebral, but never cold. The Economist, "Crossover stars Vikingur Olafsson is revitalising classical music," 16 June 2020 So far, dexamethasone is used to treat a variety of conditions, including shock, multiple sclerosis, allergies, cerebral edema, asthma, and contact dermatitis. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "COVID-19 death rate cut by cheap steroid, according to unpublished data," 16 June 2020 Sativa strains have traditionally had a reputation for creating a more cerebral, energizing effect. Samantha Davenport, Anchorage Daily News, "A shopper’s guide to Alaska cannabis: Local strains, edibles, concentrates and more," 28 May 2020 Bernice Silver, a hummingbird of a woman at 4 foot 8 inches, was a puppeteer whose performances were mock-chaotic, subtly cerebral, and always slyly subversive. Penelope Green, BostonGlobe.com, "Bernice Silver, Impish Puppeteer and Activist, Dies at 106," 23 May 2020 This one was challenging in a way the first one was not – more cerebral, more intellectual, more spiritual. Brian Truitt, USA TODAY, "Mark Hamill shares exclusive 'Star Wars' photos for 'Empire Strikes Back' 40th anniversary," 21 May 2020 His work — rueful, cerebral, gloriously smutty — includes trance poetry and automatic writing. Parul Sehgal, New York Times, "Wayne Koestenbaum’s Cerebral, Smutty Essays Playfully Disobey the Rules," 5 May 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cerebral.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of cerebral

1801, in the meaning defined at sense 1b

History and Etymology for cerebral

French cérébral, from Latin cerebrum brain; akin to Old High German hirni brain, Greek kara head, keras horn, Sanskrit śiras head — more at horn

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Time Traveler for cerebral

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The first known use of cerebral was in 1801

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Last Updated

27 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Cerebral.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cerebral. Accessed 7 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for cerebral


How to pronounce cerebral (audio) How to pronounce cerebral (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of cerebral

medical : of or relating to the brain
: related to the mind rather than to feelings : intellectual and not emotional


ce·​re·​bral | \ sə-ˈrē-brəl How to pronounce cerebral (audio) , ˈser-ə-brəl \

Kids Definition of cerebral

1 : of or relating to the brain or mind
2 : of, relating to, or affecting the cerebrum


ce·​re·​bral | \ sə-ˈrē-brəl How to pronounce cerebral (audio) , ˈser-ə- How to pronounce cerebral (audio) \

Medical Definition of cerebral

1 : of or relating to the brain or the intellect
2 : of, relating to, affecting, or being the cerebrum cerebral blood flow cerebral toxoplasmosis

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