Definition of fontanel in US English:


(also fontanelle)


  • A space between the bones of the skull in an infant or fetus, where ossification is not complete and the sutures not fully formed. The main one is between the frontal and parietal bones.

    • ‘Enough fluid should be removed to soften the fontanel, usually 10 to 15 ml.’
    • ‘Check for bulging fontanelle in the neonate (a late sign).’
    • ‘This cup placement maintains flexion of the fetal head and avoids traction over the anterior fontanelle.’
    • ‘The cup should be placed over the posterior fontanelle.’
    • ‘George has a soft fontanelle, a spot on the top of your head that usually closes over with bone during infancy.’
    • ‘Similarly, increased heart rate, sunken fontanelle, and overall poor appearance in infants contributed little to an accurate diagnosis of dehydration.’
    • ‘The tapering anterior end of the vomer enters between the premaxillae, forming a loose contact that results in slit-like fontanelles on either side.’
    • ‘I think of the fontanel, the soft spot and the crown chakra, this baby still half in the other world.’
    • ‘The lateral vacuities are referred to as the vestibular fontanelles and may be the homologues of the middle ear.’
    • ‘Term infants have well-formed skull bones separated by strips of connective tissue, sutures, and fontanelles.’
    • ‘There was rupture at the site of the anterior fontanel with extrusion of intracranial contents.’
    • ‘The sutures are, in effect, grooves between the bones of the skull and the fontanelles are small areas where the sutures meet.’
    • ‘The vestibular fontanelle was reorganized as a space that would eventually become the inner ear.’
    • ‘Look at his cradle cap, his pulsing fontanelle.’
    • ‘As the disease progresses, babies' fontanels, or soft spots, may begin to bulge.’
    • ‘Parents may also notice bulging fontanelles on their baby's head.’
    • ‘Branches were coming down left, right and centre and my head has soft fontanelles.’
    • ‘Between the ages 7 to 20 months the fontanelle, temples and back of head are particularly vulnerable when an infant is learning to walk.’
    • ‘Remember that baby's fontanels (soft spots) are delicate, but they are certainly tough enough to withstand a gentle washing.’
    • ‘Head circumference and fontanelle size can indicate a congenital disorder or head trauma.’


Mid 16th century (denoting a hollow of the skin between muscles): from French, from modern Latin fontanella, from an Old French diminutive of fontaine (see fountain). The current sense dates from the mid 18th century.