• synonyms


[aw-tuh-sef-uh-luh s]
adjective Eastern Church.
  1. (of a church) having its own head or chief bishop, though in communion with other Orthodox churches.
  2. (of a bishop) subordinate to no superior authority; self-governing.
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Origin of autocephalous

First recorded in 1860–65, autocephalous is from the Late Greek word autoképhalos having its own head. See auto-1, -cephalous
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for autocephalous

Historical Examples

  • The Cretan Church is not, strictly speaking, autocephalous, being dependent on the patriarchate of Constantinople.

    Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 7, Slice 6


  • The Church of Cyprus has been autocephalous since at any rate the oecumenical synod of Ephesus in 431.

British Dictionary definitions for autocephalous


  1. (of an Eastern Christian Church) governed by its own national synods and appointing its own patriarchs or prelates
  2. (of a bishop) independent of any higher governing body
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Derived Formsautocephalic (ˌɔːtəʊsɪˈfælɪk), adjectiveautocephaly, noun
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