[ hahy-puh-thal-uh-muhs ]

noun,plural hy·po·thal·a·mi [hahy-puh-thal-uh-mahy]. /ˌhaɪ pəˈθæl əˌmaɪ/. Anatomy.
  1. a region of the brain, between the thalamus and the midbrain, that functions as the main control center for the autonomic nervous system by regulating sleep cycles, body temperature, appetite, etc., and that acts as an endocrine gland by producing hormones, including the releasing factors that control the hormonal secretions of the pituitary gland.

Compare Meanings

Click for a side-by-side comparison of meanings. Use the word comparison feature to learn the differences between similar and commonly confused words.

Origin of hypothalamus

From New Latin, dating back to 1895–1900; see origin at hypo-, thalamus

Other words from hypothalamus

  • hy·po·tha·lam·ic [hahy-poh-thuh-lam-ik, hip-oh-], /ˌhaɪ poʊ θəˈlæm ɪk, ˌhɪp oʊ-/, adjective

Words Nearby hypothalamus

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use hypothalamus in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for hypothalamus


/ (ˌhaɪpəˈθæləməs) /

nounplural -mi (-ˌmaɪ)
  1. a neural control centre at the base of the brain, concerned with hunger, thirst, satiety, and other autonomic functions

Derived forms of hypothalamus

  • hypothalamic (ˌhaɪpəθəˈlæmɪk), adjective

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

Scientific definitions for hypothalamus


[ hī′pō-thălə-məs ]

  1. The part of the brain in vertebrate animals that lies below the thalamus and cerebrum. The hypothalamus controls the autonomic nervous system and the secretion of hormones by the pituitary gland. Through these nerve and hormone channels, the hypothalamus regulates many vital biological processes, including body temperature, blood pressure, thirst, hunger, and the sleep-wake cycle.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Cultural definitions for hypothalamus


[ (heye-puh-thal-uh-muhs) ]

The part of the brain that controls hunger, thirst, and body temperature and regulates various activities in the body connected with metabolism, including the maintaining of water balance. The hypothalamus also controls the action of the pituitary gland.

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.