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 whale, always small for her size, is severely malnourished, with the bones of her cranium showing. Lynda V. Mapes, The Seattle Times, "Scientists attempt to feed live chinook to ailing orca J50, but did she eat?," 13 Aug. 2018 Aries are daredevils who dive head first into any challenge (and quite fittingly, in medical astrology, this sign governs the cranium). Allure, "How the Sun's Position In Your Birth Chart Affects Your Zodiac Sign," 14 Aug. 2018 Now, scientists have found that the fossilized cranium belonged to an ancient relative of modern mammals that once scurried around North America some 130 million years ago. Nicholas St. Fleur, New York Times, "Big Discovery in a Tiny Mammal-Like Skull Found Under a Dinosaur’s Foot," 23 May 2018 Stone Age humans used the whole animal, commonly crushing the cranium to extract the animal’s tongue and brain. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "Did a Prehistoric Brain Surgeon Practice on This Cow?," 25 Apr. 2018 That is when, according to the fossil record, the craniums of mankind’s ancestors started expanding. The Economist, "A history of big-headedness," 31 May 2018 The explosion sent two pieces of the vape pen into the D'Elia's cranium, the autopsy found. CBS News, "Shrapnel from exploding vape pen killed Florida man, autopsy report says," 16 May 2018 But complete craniums are a rare find; these animals were raised as food, and their skulls were usually broken to retrieve the tongue and brain, the study said. Ashley Strickland, CNN, "Skull surgery was performed on this Stone Age cow, study says," 19 Apr. 2018 Beaux’s sunken cranium and too-close eyes are the result of sharing his mother’s womb with six other puppies, and have no effect on his health or mental capabilities. Meghan Overdeep, Southern Living, "Abandoned Labrador Finds a Loving Texan Mom," 26 Apr. 2018

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

12 May 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).


to mark by some ceremony or observation

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