ga·​lea ˈgā-lē-ə How to pronounce galea (audio)
: an anatomical part suggesting a helmet

Word History


borrowed from New Latin, going back to Latin, "helmet" (probably originally of leather, in contrast to cassis), borrowed from Greek galéē "weasel, marten," earlier probably "weasel skin," from gal- "weasel" (of uncertain origin) + -eē, suffix used in names of animal skins (as aigéā "goatskin," alōpēkéē "skin of a fox")

Note: The Latin shift in the meaning of the Greek word is explained by the presumed custom of decorating helmets with the skin of a small carnivore, whose ferocity was hence magically transferred to the helmetʼs wearer; the meaning "helmet" is hypothetical in Greek, though not improbable (compare kynéē "helmet made from a dog skin").

First Known Use

1823, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of galea was in 1823

Dictionary Entries Near galea

Cite this Entry

“Galea.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Sep. 2023.

Medical Definition


ga·​lea ˈgāl-ē-a How to pronounce galea (audio) ˈgal- How to pronounce galea (audio)
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