[ suh-fal-ik ]
/ səˈfæl ɪk /
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of or relating to the head.
situated or directed toward the head.
Should you take this quiz on “shall” versus “should”? It should prove to be a quick challenge!
Question 1 of 6
Which form is used to state an obligation or duty someone has?

Origin of cephalic

1590–1600; <Latin cephalicus<Greek kephalikós of the head. See cephal-, -ic


ce·phal·i·cal·ly, adverbpost·ce·phal·ic, adjectivepro·ce·phal·ic, adjectiveun·ce·phal·ic, adjective

Other definitions for cephalic (2 of 2)


variant of -cephalous: brachycephalic.

Origin of -cephalic

<Greek -kephal(os) -cephalous + -ic
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does -cephalic mean?

The combining form -cephalic is used like a suffix meaning “having a head or heads.” It is often used in medical and scientific terms.

The form -cephalic comes from the Greek kephalḗ, meaning “head.”

The combining form -cephalic is a variant of -cephalous, as in dicephalous.

Want to know more? Read our Words That Use -cephalous article.

Corresponding forms of -cephalic combined to the beginning of words are cephalo- and cephal-, which you can learn more about in our Words That Use articles for each form.

Also deriving from kephalḗ are the combining forms encephalo- and encephal-, meaning “brain.” Discover how these forms are used in our Words That Use encephalo- and encephal- articles.

Examples of -cephalic

One example of a botany term that uses -cephalic is monocephalic, meaning “bearing one flower head,” like a dandelion or domesticated sunflower.

The first part of monocephalic might look familiar to you. Mono means “one, single, alone.” The second part of the word, -cephalic, means “having a head,” as we’ve seen. So, monocephalic literally translates to “having a single head.”

What are some words that use the combining form –cephalic?

Break it down!

The term isocephalic is a term sometimes used in fine arts to describe figures which have a body part that are all composed at approximately the same level (iso means “equal”). Which body part does isocephalic refer to?

How to use cephalic in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for cephalic (1 of 2)

/ (sɪˈfælɪk) /

of or relating to the head
situated in, on, or near the head

British Dictionary definitions for cephalic (2 of 2)



adj combining form
indicating skull or head; -headedbrachycephalic

Derived forms of -cephalic

-cephaly or -cephalism, n combining form

Word Origin for -cephalic

from Greek -kephalos
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

Medical definitions for cephalic (1 of 2)

[ sə-fălĭk ]

Of or relating to the head.
Located on, in, or near the head.

Medical definitions for cephalic (2 of 2)


Having a specified kind or number of heads:dolichocephalic.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Scientific definitions for cephalic

[ sə-fălĭk ]

Located on or near the head.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.