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

Some of that comes with trying to tinker with too many things and getting a little too cerebral with your adjustments. Chandler Rome, Houston Chronicle, "Astros' Robinson Chirinos working to fix body mechanics," 17 July 2019 As a writer, Hemon is exact, unsentimental, cerebral. Ryu Spaeth, The New Republic, "Aleksandar Hemon’s Lost Eden," 6 June 2019 Other festival highlights are as cerebral as a talk with the novelist Rachel Kushner and the filmmaker Paul Schrader, or as sweet as a meet-and-greet for children and baby birds. Joshua Barone, New York Times, "From Aristophanes to Hitchcock, Celebrating Birds and Culture," 26 Apr. 2018 In the new study, the authors used positron-emission tomography to scan immune system activity in mice that had the blood in a single cerebral artery interrupted for 45 minutes, mimicking an ischemic stroke. Bret Stetka, Scientific American, "New Method for Tackling Stroke Restrains an Overactive Immune System," 2 July 2019 And Buttigieg, a former Obama campaign staffer, could argue that another younger, cerebral Midwesterner is the natural heir. James Pindell, BostonGlobe.com, "What to watch for in Thursday’s debate (hint: Biden, Biden, and more Biden)," 27 June 2019 Evidence of dynamic activity, in individual and synchronized neurons, was seen across a network of cerebral organoids grown from stem cells in a preliminary study published Thursday in the journal Stem Cell Reports. Susan Scutti, CNN, "Mini-brains grown from stem cells don't think, but they do show 'complex' neural activity, researchers say," 27 June 2019 Wielding his singular fish-hook stick blade, the grizzly, cerebral 28-year-old was a menace on both ends, whether hanging onto the puck for long offensive zone shifts or retrieving Bruins dump-ins with the smoothness of a veteran blueliner. Alex Prewitt, SI.com, "Gloria! Blues Turn Lost Season Into Long-Awaited Stanley Cup Title," 13 June 2019 The infant went into respiratory failure and suffered multiple skull fractures, cerebral hemorrhaging and extensive retinal hemorrhaging in the June 5 assault. Fox News, "Wisconsin dad accused of killing infant while being held by mother: report," 12 June 2019

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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Last Updated

22 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for cerebral

The first known use of cerebral was in 1801

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More Definitions for cerebral



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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More from Merriam-Webster on cerebral

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with cerebral

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for cerebral

Spanish Central: Translation of cerebral

Nglish: Translation of cerebral for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of cerebral for Arabic Speakers

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