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[luh-bot-uh-mee, loh-]
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noun, plural lo·bot·o·mies. Surgery.
  1. the operation of cutting into a lobe, as of the brain or the lung.
  2. prefrontal lobotomy.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for lobotomy


noun plural -mies
  1. a surgical incision into a lobe of any organ
  2. Also called: prefrontal leucotomy a surgical interruption of one or more nerve tracts in the frontal lobe of the brain: used in the treatment of intractable mental disorders

Word Origin

C20: from lobe + -tomy
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

Word Origin and History for lobotomy


1936, coined from lobe (in the brain sense) + medical suffix -tomy. Figurative use is attested from 1953.

Now I guess I'll have to tell 'em
That I got no cerebellum
[Ramones, "Teenage Lobotomy," 1977]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

lobotomy in Medicine


(lə-bŏtə-mē, lō-)
  1. Incision into a lobe.
  2. The division of one or more nerve tracts in a lobe of the cerebrum.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

lobotomy in Science


  1. Surgical incision into the frontal lobe of the brain to sever one or more nerve tracts, a technique formerly used to treat certain psychiatric disorders but now rarely performed.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

lobotomy in Culture


[(luh-bot-uh-mee, loh-bot-uh-mee)]

A surgical incision into one or more of the nerve masses in the front of the brain. A lobotomy may be performed for the relief of certain mental disorders, although it has been largely abandoned in favor of less radical treatments.


Because people who have had a lobotomy often become quite passive after the operation, the term is often used to refer to someone who shows a lack of response or reaction: “She was so tired she just sat there as if she had been lobotomized.”
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.