One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
(of an Eastern Christian Church) appointing its own head, not subject to the authority of an external patriarch or archbishop.
- ‘Obviously, further definition is needed in this area to describe the relationships between autocephalous and national church communities, for example, but we cannot go into this here.’
- ‘Further, the Orthodox tradition, with its autocephalous churches and sufficiently full agreement in doctrine, presents an alternative to centralized authority.’
- ‘The fourteen autocephalous and autonomous churches were invited to send official delegates to this important event.’
- ‘The Albanian Orthodox Archdiocese in America is an autocephalous church established in 1908.’
Mid 19th century: from Greek autokephalos (from autos ‘self’ + kephalē ‘head’) + -ous.
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