Definition of enkephalin in English:


(also encephalin)


  • Either of two peptide compounds occurring naturally in the brain, related to the endorphins and having similar physiological effects.

    • ‘Belief and expectation, cardinal components of hope, can block pain by releasing the brain's endorphins and enkephalins, thereby mimicking the effect of morphine.’
    • ‘Endorphin and enkephalins are released, creating a euphoric effect.’
    • ‘For example, it enhances production of naturally occurring morphine-like substances called endorphins and enkephalins that moderate pain.’
    • ‘Pleasant diversion and vigorous exercise help as they increase the inborn production of pain killers called endorphins or enkephalins.’
    • ‘Within a few years, researchers had isolated two classes of peptide molecules, the enkephalins and the endorphins.’


1970s: from Greek enkephalos brain (from en- in + kephalē head) + -in.