[ aw-tuh-sef-uh-luhs ]

adjectiveEastern 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.

Origin of autocephalous

First recorded in 1860–65, autocephalous is from the Late Greek word autoképhalos having its own head. See auto-1, -cephalous

Words Nearby autocephalous Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use autocephalous in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for autocephalous


/ (ˌɔːtəʊˈsɛfələs) /

  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

Derived forms of autocephalous

  • autocephalic (ˌɔːtəʊsɪˈfælɪk), adjective
  • autocephaly, 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