One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1Not having a head.‘an acephalous skeleton’
- ‘Thus the design may sometimes appear acephalous and at other times polycephalous (Hydra-headed).’
- 1.1 Having no leader or chief.‘an acephalous society’
- ‘During the late nineteenth century in societies ranging from the acephalous to interlacustrine kingdoms, senior men bolstered their authority through a monopoly of access to locally brewed beer.’
- ‘The resistance is largely decentralised, localised and acephalous.’
- ‘Whereas most large centralized states surrendered after an initial confrontation and defeat, certain small, and also acephalous, polities kept up a long drawn-out military struggle against alien rule.’
- ‘Reflecting the primacy of kinship bonds, tribes are resolutely egalitarian, segmental, and acephalous - to use terms favored by anthropologists.’
- ‘The project could be described as an acephalous horde, in which there may be some person with more influence than others, but where everything is agreed in direct communication.’
- ‘From such a perspective, the acephalous Igbo and their neighbors were on the receiving end of artistic innovation.’
- ‘The innuendo was that female rule, if insufficiently ‘godly’, was not sacral monarchy, but was tantamount to minority or acephalous rule.’
- ‘Sierra Leone was the object of similar plunder, leaving an acephalous state in rampant disorder only to be stabilised by British Tommies.’
(typically of a hexameter beginning with a short syllable) lacking a syllable or syllables in the first foot.
Mid 18th century: via medieval Latin from Greek akephalos ‘headless’ (from a- ‘without’ + kephalē ‘head’) + -ous.
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