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From French acéphale, from Ancient Greek ἀκέφαλος (aképhalos, headless), from ἀ- (a-, not) + κεφαλή (kephalḗ, head). Synchronically, a- +‎ -cephalous.


  • IPA(key): /əˈsɛfələs/
  • (file)


acephalous (comparative more acephalous, superlative most acephalous)

  1. Headless
  2. (zoology, applied to bivalve mollusks) Without a distinct head.
  3. (botany) Having the style spring from the base, instead of from the apex, as is the case in certain ovaries
  4. Without a leader or chief.
  5. Without a beginning
    • 1828, Thomas de Quincey, Elements of Rhetoric (published in Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine
      A false or acephalous structure of sentence.
  6. (prosody) Deficient in the beginning, as a line of poetry that is missing its expected opening syllable
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Brande to this entry?)

Derived terms[edit]


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