[ sef-uh-luhs ]
/ ˈsɛf ə ləs /
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having a head.
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“Was” is used for the indicative past tense of “to be,” and “were” is only used for the subjunctive past tense.

Origin of cephalous

First recorded in 1870–75; cephal- + -ous

Other definitions for cephalous (2 of 2)


a combining form meaning “having a head or heads” of the specified sort or number: brachycephalous.
Also -cephalic.

Origin of -cephalous

<Greek -kephalos -headed, derivative of kephalḗ head; see -ous
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does -cephalous mean?

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

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

What are variants of –cephalous?

A variant of -cephalous is -cephalic, as in monocephalic.

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

Corresponding forms of -cephalous 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 -cephalous

One example of a term in botany and zoology that uses -cephalous is bicephalous, meaning “having two heads.” When an organism is bicephalous, it is generally the result of a rare congenital disorder.

You may be familiar already with the combining form bi-, meaning “two.” The second part of the word, -cephalous, means “having a head.” Bicephalous literally translates to “having two heads.”

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

The combining form -cephalous should not be confused with syphilis, a disease usually contracted through sexual intercourse.

Break it down!

The prefix a- can mean “not” or “without.” With this in mind, what does acephalous mean?

Medical definitions for cephalous


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