Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Biology Headless or lacking a clearly defined head.
  • adjective Having no leader.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Without a head; headless: applied
  • Without a leader or chief.
  • Wanting a distinct beginning; indefinite in subject.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective Headless.
  • adjective (Zoöl.) Without a distinct head; -- a term applied to bivalve mollusks.
  • adjective (Bot.) Having the style spring from the base, instead of from the apex, as is the case in certain ovaries.
  • adjective Without a leader or chief.
  • adjective Wanting the beginning.
  • adjective (Pros.) Deficient at the beginning, as a line of poetry.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective Headless
  • adjective zoology Without a distinct head; -- a term applied to bivalve mollusks.
  • adjective botany Having the style spring from the base, instead of from the apex, as is the case in certain ovaries
  • adjective Without a leader or chief.
  • adjective Wanting the beginning
  • adjective prosody Deficient in the beginning, as a line of poetry that is missing its expected opening syllable - Brande

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adjective lacking a head or a clearly defined head

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[From Medieval Latin acephalus, from Greek akephalos : a-, without; see a– + kephalē, head; see –cephalous.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From French acéphale, from Ancient Greek ἀκέφαλος (akephalos, "headless"), from ἀ- ("not") + κεφαλή (kephalē, "head").

Examples

  • The state had been erected upon lessons learned through centuries trying to maintain peace within an insular acephalous tribal society with a penchant for infighting and was most functional when it resembled a "loose" confederation in which legislative and judicial powers were pushed down to the local level - a concept analogous to America's states' rights.

    Michael Hughes: Afghanistan Corrupted by U.S. and 30 Years of Foreign Meddling

  • The state had been erected upon lessons learned through centuries trying to maintain peace within an insular acephalous tribal society with a penchant for infighting and was most functional when it resembled a "loose" confederation in which legislative and judicial powers were pushed down to the local level - a concept analogous to America's states' rights.

    Michael Hughes: Afghanistan Corrupted by U.S. and 30 Years of Foreign Meddling

  • The state had been erected upon lessons learned through centuries trying to maintain peace within an insular acephalous tribal society with a penchant for infighting and was most functional when it resembled a "loose" confederation in which legislative and judicial powers were pushed down to the local level - a concept analogous to America's states' rights.

    Michael Hughes: Afghanistan Corrupted by U.S. and 30 Years of Foreign Meddling

  • The state had been erected upon lessons learned through centuries trying to maintain peace within an insular acephalous tribal society with a penchant for infighting and was most functional when it resembled a "loose" confederation in which legislative and judicial powers were pushed down to the local level - a concept analogous to America's states' rights.

    Michael Hughes: Afghanistan Corrupted by U.S. and 30 Years of Foreign Meddling

  • John: another of their great exchanges (about then Brave Jeff Francoeur) was preserved here at blog I can't link to, but if you Google "Hernandez awkward introductions acephalous" you can find it. keith hernandez and his dog, duncan

    The Anti-Homers

  • John: another of their great exchanges (about then Brave Jeff Francoeur) was preserved here at blog I can't link to, but if you Google "Hernandez awkward introductions acephalous" you can find it. keith hernandez and his dog, duncan

    The Anti-Homers

  • John: another of their great exchanges (about then Brave Jeff Francoeur) was preserved here at blog I can't link to, but if you Google "Hernandez awkward introductions acephalous" you can find it. keith hernandez and his dog, duncan

    The Anti-Homers

  • John: another of their great exchanges (about then Brave Jeff Francoeur) was preserved here at blog I can't link to, but if you Google "Hernandez awkward introductions acephalous" you can find it. keith hernandez and his dog, duncan

    The Anti-Homers

  • This excerpt sums up the modus operandi of a rogue vice presidency in an at-times acephalous executive branch:

    William E. Jackson Jr.: The Vices of Cheney: The Burden is Upon the House Judiciary Committee

  • On the one hand, by providing formerly acephalous societies with formal leaders and symbols of legitimate (that is, VOC-enforced) authority, the company managed to integrate these societies into a greater chain of command: Elders commanded villages, governor commanded elders, governor-general commanded governor, etc.

    How Taiwan Became Chinese

Comments

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  • What marvel, that we have sold our birth-right to an acephalous mollusk, when the simple use of the tongue has passed into such headless mongreldom?

    --Richard Blackmore, 1884, Tommy Upmore

    November 11, 2007

  • Astride his dark snorting Bucephalus

    Whose thundering hoofbeats can deafen us,

    The horseman delights

    In haunting our nights,

    More horrid because he’s acephalous.

    October 29, 2018