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

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 Based on the real-life story of Rocky Dennis, Bogdonavich's inspirational biopic starred Eric Stoltz as a teenager with a rare disease that disfigured his cranium who tries to live a normal life. Brian Truitt, USA TODAY, 7 Jan. 2022 In fact, the DNH 155 cranium was in several hundred pieces, some smaller than the average pinky fingernail, and each piece was incredibly fragile. Jesse Martin, Scientific American, 25 Apr. 2021 Among its adherents was the Brazilian anthropologist Raimundo Nina Rodrigues, who examined Conselheiro’s cranium. Ela Bittencourt, Harper’s Magazine , 7 Dec. 2021 The fragments of her cranium were retrieved from a limestone shelf in an extremely narrow passage only 5.9 inches (15 centimeters) wide by 31.4 inches (80 centimeters) in length. Ashley Strickland, CNN, 4 Nov. 2021 The impact broke his cranium and caused his brain to bleed, landing him in the hospital for five months. Mallory Moench, San Francisco Chronicle, 21 Oct. 2021 The first is Allium cranium, a pretty little blue onion that grows in clumps. Jeff Lowenfels, Anchorage Daily News, 16 Sep. 2021 The eye sockets, by contrast, are easily overlooked on the sides of the cranium. Timothy John Burbery, The Conversation, 6 Aug. 2021 The Chick ’n’ Egg Chair by Manuel Kretzer uses its honeycombs to curve to the behind rather than the cranium, but could also be scaled up or down or, one imagines, horizontally, to provide a contoured surface large enough to lie down on. Alexandra Lange, Curbed, 23 July 2021

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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Time Traveler for cranium

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

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Last Updated

16 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Cranium.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Jan. 2022.

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English Language Learners Definition of cranium

: skull


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 cranium (audio) \

Medical Definition of cranium

: skull specifically : braincase

More from Merriam-Webster on cranium

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


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