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Cranium (braincase) with the eight bones of the human cranium labelled.
Cranium (upper portion of skull) of ancient Egyptian.


From Medieval Latin crānium (skull), from Ancient Greek κρανίον (kraníon, skull).



cranium (plural craniums or crania)

  1. (anatomy) The braincase or neurocranium; that part of the skull consisting of the bones enclosing the brain, but not including the bones of the face or jaw.
    • 1858, Henry Gray, Anatomy: Descriptive and Surgical, "The Skull", page 19.
      The Skull is divided into two parts, the Cranium and the Face. The Cranium is composed of eight bones; []
    • 1908, J. McFadyean, The Comparative Anatomy of the Domesticated Animals, Part I: Osteology and Arthrology, "Skeleton of Fowl", page 165.
      The cranium of the fowl is composed of the same elements as are present in the mammalian cranium, save that there is no interparietal.
    • 2010, Elaine N. Marieb & Katja Hoehn, Human Anatomy and Physiology, 8th ed., Chapter 7 "The Skeleton", page 200
      The cranial bones, or cranium (kra′ne-um), enclose and protect the fragile brain and furnish attachment sites for head and neck muscles.
  2. (anthropology, informal) The upper portion of the skull, including the neurocranium and facial bones, but not including the jawbone (mandible).
    • 2014, Emma L. Brown, Ronald A. Dixon, & Jason W. Birkett, "The Discolouration of Human Teeth from Archaeological Contexts: Elemental Analysis of a Black Tooth from a Roman Cranium Recovered from the River Witham, Lincoln, UK", Journal of Anthropology, vol. 2014, Article ID 859153, 7 pages.
      In this study, the cranium recovered from the River Witham in Lincoln exhibited a black metallic staining on the surfaces of the teeth.
  3. (informal) The skull.




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Earliest attestation circa 1190. From Ancient Greek κρανίον (kraníon, skull).



crānium n (genitive crāniī); second declension

  1. (Medieval Latin) skull


Second declension.

Case Singular Plural
Nominative crānium crānia
Genitive crāniī crāniōrum
Dative crāniō crāniīs
Accusative crānium crānia
Ablative crāniō crāniīs
Vocative crānium crānia