[krey-nee-uh m]

noun, plural cra·ni·ums, cra·ni·a [krey-nee-uh] /ˈkreɪ ni ə/.

the skull of a vertebrate.
the part of the skull that encloses the brain.

Origin of cranium

1375–1425; late Middle English craneum < Medieval Latin crānium < Greek krāníon skull; akin to ceratokoi·ə , cerebrum, cornu, horn
Also called braincase. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for cranium

head, crown, braincase, brainpan

Examples from the Web for cranium

Contemporary Examples of cranium

Historical Examples of cranium

  • Galusha raised a hand in bewildered fashion and felt of his cranium.

    Galusha the Magnificent

    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • But on this 1916 trip some faint glimmering must have penetrated the density of my cranium.

  • There was nothing slow about the grey matter in her cranium.

    A Woman who went to Alaska

    May Kellogg Sullivan

  • Frederick Seward suffered intensely from a fracture of the cranium.

    Between the Lines

    Henry Bascom Smith

  • It is now well proportioned, the bones of the cranium, formerly flat, are arched.


    Henry Stanton

British Dictionary definitions for cranium


noun plural -niums or -nia (-nɪə)

the skull of a vertebrate
the part of the skull that encloses the brainNontechnical name: brainpan

Word Origin for cranium

C16: from Medieval Latin crānium skull, from Greek kranion
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

Word Origin and History for cranium

1540s, from Medieval Latin cranium, from Greek kranion "skull, upper part of the head," related to kara (poetic kras) "head," from PIE root *ker- "horn, head" (see horn (n.)). Strictly, the bones which enclose the brain.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

cranium in Medicine



n. pl. cra•ni•ums

The bony case enclosing the brain, excluding the bones of the face; braincase.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

cranium in Science



Plural craniums crania

The vertebrate skull, especially the part that encloses and protects the brain.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

cranium in Culture



The part of the skull that encloses the brain.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.