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An acanthocephalan (Profilicollis altmani) removed from its host

Alternative forms[edit]


From Ancient Greek ἄκανθος (ákanthos, thorn) + κεφαλή (kephalḗ, head).


  • (US) IPA(key): /əˌkæn.θəˈsɛf.ə.lən/, /əˌkænt.θəˈsɛf.ə.lən/, /əˌkæn.θoʊˈsɛf.ə.lən/
  • Rhymes: -ɛfələn


acanthocephalan (plural acanthocephalans)

  1. Any of parasitic intestinal worms comprising the phylum Acanthocephala. [First attested late 19th c.][1]
    • 1970, D. W. T. Crompton, An Ecological Approach to Acanthocephalan Physiology[1], page 25:
      That discussion of fish intestines is justified because many acanthocephalans have been described from fish.
    • 2006, B. B. Nickol, Phylum Acanthocephala, P. T. K. Woo (editor), Fish Diseases and Disorders, Volume 1: Protozoan and Metazoan Infections, 2nd Edition, page 458,
      Clearly acanthocephalans contain large amounts of lipid and possess enzyme systems for lipid metabolism (Filipponi et al., 1994; Weber et al., 1995); however, use of these lipid deposits in energy metabolism is yet to be demonstrated.
    • 2009, Dennis J. Richardson, Brent B. Nickol, 15: Acanthocephala, Carter T. Atkinson, Nancy J. Thomas, D. Bruce Hunter (editors), Parasitic Diseases of Wild Birds, page 277,
      Acanthocephalans are dioecious pseudocoelomate worms remarkably adapted to a parasitic lifestyle in that there is no mouth or digestive system.





  1. In a manner similar to Acanthocephala. [First attested late 19th c.][1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Brown, Lesley, ed. The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary. 5th. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003.