cra·​ni·​um | \ ˈkrā-nē-əm How to pronounce cranium (audio) \
plural craniums or crania\ ˈkrā-​nē-​ə How to pronounce crania (audio) \

Definition of cranium

: skull specifically : the part of the skull that encloses the brain : braincase Among the physical characters that distinguish them from other early humans are the long, low sweep of the Neanderthal cranium— James Shreeve "Hey, big head!" Mahorn shouted. Aguirre does, in fact, have an extraordinary cranium. — Jeff Coplon You don't "watch" a film like Fight Club; you mainline a deluge of visual and sonic information (including a hefty chunk of the IKEA catalog) straight into your cranium. — Jeff Gordinier

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Synonyms for cranium



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Examples of cranium in a Sentence

the cranium of a Neanderthal is striking for its brow ridges

Recent Examples on the Web

The recent discovery of a 3.8m-year-old cranium (skull without the lower jaw) is the hottest topic of conversation among palaeoanthropologists right now. Hester Hanegraef, Quartz Africa, "The skull of humanity’s oldest known ancestor is changing our understanding of evolution," 7 Sep. 2019 The skull fossilized within the sandstone, to the delight of the scientists who discovered the cranium in 2016. Ben Guarino, Anchorage Daily News, "This newfound 3.8-million-year-old skull called ‘iconic’ in human evolution," 29 Aug. 2019 Two of the skulls were deformed, but in different ways — one resembled an elongated egg, and the other had a flattened forehead, causing the cranium to grow higher. Martin Finucane,, "Medieval Croatian skulls indicate that people intentionally modified their head shapes. But why?," 29 Aug. 2019 This undated photo provided by the Cleveland Museum of Natural History in August 2019 shows a facial reconstruction model by John Gurche made from a fossilized cranium of Australopithecus anamensis. Washington Post, "Ethiopian fossil reveals face for ancestor of famed ‘Lucy’," 28 Aug. 2019 Head trauma that shows signs of remodeling—the formation of callouses on longer bones, for instance, or bony bridges forming in the cranium—is a strong indication that the injury occurred antemortem, at least five to seven days before death. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Study concludes 33,000-year-old skull shows signs of blunt-force trauma," 6 July 2019 If those precious three pounds of goo in our craniums aren’t ours to control, what is? Sigal Samuel, Vox, "Facebook is building tech to read your mind. The ethical implications are staggering.," 5 Aug. 2019 The curve of its cranium is considered a uniquely modern trait. Robert Lee Hotz, WSJ, "Fossil Suggests Earliest Known Movement of Humans Out of Africa," 10 July 2019 Often, there are heads in his pieces, but their craniums open up to reveal fantastical worlds, everything from anatomical abnormalities to robotic inner-workings. Ray Mark Rinaldi, The Know, "One of Mexico City’s trendsetters is bringing his art and music to Denver," 16 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cranium.' 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 cranium

15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for cranium

Medieval Latin, from Greek kranion; akin to Greek kara head — more at cerebral

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Statistics for cranium

Last Updated

15 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for cranium

The first known use of cranium was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for cranium


cra·​ni·​um | \ ˈkrā-nē-əm How to pronounce cranium (audio) \
plural craniums or crania\ -​nē-​ə \

Kids Definition of cranium

1 : skull
2 : the part of the skull enclosing the brain


cra·​ni·​um | \ ˈkrā-nē-əm How to pronounce cranium (audio) \
plural craniums or crania\ -​nē-​ə How to pronounce crania (audio) \

Medical Definition of cranium

: skull specifically : braincase

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More from Merriam-Webster on cranium

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for cranium

Spanish Central: Translation of cranium

Nglish: Translation of cranium for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about cranium

Comments on cranium

What made you want to look up cranium? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


one from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

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