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a combining form meaning “brain,” used in the formation of compound words: encephalograph.
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Also especially before a vowel, encephal-.

Origin of encephalo-

<Greek enképhalos.See encephalon
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does encephalo- mean?

Encephalo- is a combining form used like a prefix meaning “brain.” It is often used in medical terms, especially in anatomy.

Encephalo- comes from the Greek enképhalos, meaning “brain.” Literally, enképhalos means “in (en-) the head (kephalē).” That is where you can find the brain, after all.

What are variants of encephalo-?

When combined with words or word elements that begin with a vowel, encephalo- becomes encephal-, as in encephaloma.

Examples of encephalo-

An example of a word you may have encountered that features encephalo- is encephalogram, “an x-ray of the brain.”

Encephalo-, as we’ve seen, means “brain.” The combining form -gram might look familiar, too; it means “something written; drawing.” So, the word encephalogram is literally like a “brain image.”

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

What are some other forms that encephalo- may be commonly confused with?

Still curious? The technical name for the brain is encephalon.

Break it down!

The combining form -tomy means “cutting, incision,” as of an organ. If a surgeon performs an encephalotomy, what part of the body are they cutting into or dissecting?

How to use encephalo- in a sentence

  • Oh well, Mallory thought, encephalo-guiding his rohorse through the ancient forest, there'll be other chances.

    A Knyght Ther Was|Robert F. Young

British Dictionary definitions for encephalo-


before a vowel encephal-

combining form
indicating the brainencephalogram; encephalitis

Word Origin for encephalo-

from New Latin, from Greek enkephalos, from en- in + kephalē 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

Medical definitions for encephalo-


The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.