Definition of enkephalin in English:



  • Either of two compounds that occur naturally in the brain. They are peptides related to the endorphins, with similar physiological effects.

    • ‘Pleasant diversion and vigorous exercise help as they increase the inborn production of pain killers called endorphins or enkephalins.’
    • ‘Belief and expectation, cardinal components of hope, can block pain by releasing the brain's endorphins and enkephalins, thereby mimicking the effect of morphine.’
    • ‘Within a few years, researchers had isolated two classes of peptide molecules, the enkephalins and the endorphins.’
    • ‘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.’


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