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a combining form meaning “head,” used in the formation of compound words: cephalometry.
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Origin of cephalo-

<Greek kephalo-, combining form of kephalḗ head; akin to gable
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does cephalo- mean?

Cephalo- is a combining form used like a prefix meaning “head.” It is often used in medical and scientific terms.

Cephalo- comes from the Greek kephalḗ, meaning “head.”

What are variants of cephalo-?

When combined with words or word elements that begin with a vowel, cephalo- becomes cephal-, as in cephalalgia.

Corresponding forms of cephalo- combined to the end of words are cephaly, cephalic, and cephalous, 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.”

Want to know more? Read our Words That Use encephalo- and encephal- articles.

Examples of cephalo-

A scientific term you may have heard of that features cephalo- is cephalopod, a name for a class of mollusks that include the cuttlefish, squid, and octopus.

Cephalopod is based on the New Latin Cephalopoda, which is ultimately based on the Greek kephalḗ and poús, meaning “foot.” The latter root, poús, is the source of -pod, a combining form meaning “one having a foot.” A cephalopod literally translates to “head-foot,” a reference to the appearance of the animals. Ever see an octopus? It definitely looks like their legs (tentacles) are attached to a big head.

What are some words that use the combining form cephalo-?

Break it down!

The combining form odynia means “pain.” With this and the meaning of cephalo- in mind, what is an everyday word for cephalodynia?

How to use cephalo- in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for cephalo-


before a vowel cephal-

combining form
indicating the headcephalopod

Word Origin for cephalo-

via Latin from Greek kephalo-, from kephale head
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