I flew to the medical dictionaries for elucidation on this word, which formally refers to a person having an abnormally long and narrow skull, misshapen due to a congenital condition. What happens is that one or more of the sutures in the head — fibrous joints between the bones of the skull — close before the brain has finished growing.
The condition is recorded under many different names, depending on which sutures are involved and the shape of the resulting deformation; some of the other terms are acrocephaly (Greek akron, tip), dolichocephaly (Greek dolikos, long), plagiocephaly (Greek plagios, slanting), brachycephaly (Greek brakus, short), trigonocephaly (Greek trigonos, three-cornered), tectocephaly (Latin tectum, a roof), oxycephaly (Greek oxus, sharp), and scaphocephaly (Greek skaphos, a light boat or skiff).
In all these terms, the last element is from Greek kephale, head. In cymbocephalic the first part is from another Greek word for a small boat, kymbe.
Search World Wide Words
Recently added or updated
Who coined forecast?; Vigintillion; Hingle; Bookaneer; Pig sick; Adimpleate; Deodand; Ilk; Fowler’s Modern English Usage; Skint; Vellichor; Galoot; Crizzling; Caparisoned; Volleyballene; Trove; Smithereens; Worry wart; Punch list; Verbigeration; Heliotrope; Ditty bag; E30; Old fogey.
Support World Wide Words!
Donate via PayPal. Select your currency from the list and click Donate.
Buy from Amazon and get me a small commission at no cost to you. Select your preferred site and click Go!