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a combining form of nouns that correspond to adjectives ending in -cephalic or -cephalous: dolichocephaly.
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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does -cephaly mean?

The combining form -cephaly is used like a suffix meaning “the state of having a head or heads.” It is often used in medical and scientific terms.

To get more technical, -cephaly is used to create noun forms of adjectives ending in -cephalic or -cephalous. Discover how those forms are used in our Words That Use articles for them.

The form -cephaly comes from the Greek kephalḗ, meaning “head.”

Corresponding forms of -cephaly,cephalic, and -cephalous combined to the beginning of words are cephalo- and cephal-, 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 -cephaly

One medical term that features -cephaly is pachycephaly, meaning “abnormal thickness of the skull.”

The first half of the word, pachy, means “thick.” The second part of the word, -cephaly, means “head.” Putting it all back together, pachycephaly has the literal sense of “thick-headedness.”

What are some words that use the combining form –cephaly?

Break it down!

The combining form brachy- means “short.” With this in mind, what is an everyday way of referring to the medical condition of brachycephaly?

Medical definitions for -cephaly


A specified condition affecting the head:microcephaly.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.