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[suh-ree-bruh l, ser-uh-] /səˈri brəl, ˈsɛr ə-/
Anatomy, Zoology. of or relating to the cerebrum or the brain.
betraying or characterized by the use of the intellect rather than intuition or instinct:
His is a cerebral music that leaves many people cold.
Phonetics. retroflex (def 2).
Phonetics. a cerebral sound.
Origin of cerebral
From the New Latin word cerebrālis, dating back to 1795-1805. See cerebrum, -al1
Related forms
cerebrally, adverb
intercerebral, adjective
noncerebral, adjective
overcerebral, adjective
postcerebral, adjective
precerebral, adjective
subcerebral, adjective
supercerebral, adjective
supercerebrally, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for cerebral
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The consciousness is absolutely insensitive with regard to the dispositions of the cerebral substance and its mode of work.

    The Mind and the Brain Alfred Binet
  • See cerebral mechanism Cosmogony and genesis of matter, 188.

    Creative Evolution Henri Bergson
  • The cerebral vesicle which represents this is a plain cavity without true subdivision into ventricles.

    Degeneracy Eugene S. Talbot
  • See cerebral activity and consciousnessof the eye, 88instinct as, 176-7of intellect.

    Creative Evolution Henri Bergson
  • And now, by some abnormal mode of cerebral activity, the trance-speaker won strange sympathies from his auditors.

British Dictionary definitions for cerebral


/ˈsɛrɪbrəl; US səˈriːbrəl/
of or relating to the cerebrum or to the entire brain
involving intelligence rather than emotions or instinct
(phonetics) another word for cacuminal
(phonetics) a consonant articulated in the manner of a cacuminal consonant
Derived Forms
cerebrally, adverb
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for cerebral

1816, "pertaining to the brain," from French cérébral (16c.), from Latin cerebrum "the brain" (also "the understanding"), from PIE *keres-, from root *ker- "top of the head" (see horn (n.)). Meaning "intellectual, clever" is from 1929. Cerebral palsy attested from 1824, originally a general term for cases of paralysis that seemed to be traceable to "a morbid state of the encephalon." Later used in a more specific sense from c.1860, based on the work of English surgeon Dr. William Little.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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cerebral in Medicine

cerebral cer·e·bral (sěr'ə-brəl, sə-rē'-)
Of or relating to the brain or cerebrum.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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cerebral in Science
  (sěr'ə-brəl, sə-rē'brəl)   
Relating to or involving the brain or cerebrum.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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cerebral in Culture
cerebral [(suh-ree-bruhl, ser-uh-bruhl)]

A descriptive term for things pertaining to the brain or cerebrum.

Note: The term is also used figuratively to describe things that appeal to the intellect.
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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