• synonyms


or fon·ta·nelle

noun Anatomy.
  1. one of the spaces, covered by membrane, between the bones of the fetal or young skull.
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Origin of fontanel

1375–1425; late Middle English fontinel < Middle French fontanele little spring, diminutive of fontaine fountain
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for fontanelle


mainly US fontanel

  1. anatomy any of several soft membranous gaps between the bones of the skull in a fetus or infant
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Word Origin

C16 (in the sense: hollow between muscles): from Old French fontanele, literally: a little spring, from fontaine fountain
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 fontanelle


also fontanel, 1540s, "hollow between two muscles," from French fontanelle (16c.), from Old French fontenele "small source, fountain, spring; fontanelle," diminutive of fontaine "spring" (see fountain), on analogy of the dent in the earth where a spring arises. In reference to the "hollow" in a baby's skull, it is first recorded 1741.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

fontanelle in Medicine


  1. Any of the soft membranous gaps between the incompletely formed cranial bones of a fetus or infant.soft spot
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.