Definition of skull in US English:



  • 1A framework of bone or cartilage enclosing the brain of a vertebrate; the skeleton of a person's or animal's head.

    • ‘I read this story about the baby's skull being cracked.’
    • ‘There does not need to be a visible injury, such as a fracture to the skull, for brain damage to occur.’
    • ‘For skull lengths, neither descendent population differs significantly from its progenitor population.’
    • ‘There should be no difference between the intensity of the sound waves reaching each cochlea via the bones of the skull.’
    • ‘The victim was rushed to St George's Hospital with a cracked skull and is now recovering at home.’
    • ‘The 57-year-old had suffered a fractured skull and died later in hospital.’
    • ‘You do get people with highly unusual skull shapes, why not in animals?’
    • ‘Generally, carnivore species are more dimorphic for canine measurements than for skull length.’
    • ‘And from this, you suffer four skull fractures, a broken hand and broken leg.’
    • ‘All these are headquartered at the inside part of the temporal lobe of the brain behind the skull's bony archway joining your ear to your eye.’
    • ‘He was later found unconscious and taken by ambulance back to BRI, where the fractured skull was discovered.’
    • ‘A skull X-Ray revealed a fracture of the right petrous temporal bone.’
    • ‘The impact of the crash has fractured his skull and he won't stop bleeding.’
    • ‘Both chickens and humans are vertebrates, a group of animals that have skulls and backbones.’
    • ‘For male skull length, the pattern is similar but not so clean.’
    • ‘"This creature had enough power to crush a human skull, " Wroe said.’
    • ‘All the blood cells are formed in the marrow of the flat bones such as the skull, breastbone and pelvis.’
    • ‘A toddler suffered a fractured skull in a mystery road accident outside his house.’
    • ‘A post-mortem examination showed a fractured skull, with bone fragments pushing into the brain's membrane.’
    • ‘Even if the knock is not severe enough to cause the skull to fracture, the brain bangs against the skull and can be damaged.’
    1. 1.1informal A person's head or brain.
      ‘a skull crammed with too many thoughts’
      • ‘Soon after, she felt another something hard smack into her skull, making her head pound and spin.’
      • ‘The sound vibrations reverberate in the skull and heads towards the ear, where, we are assured, the diver can hear the conversation perfectly well.’
      • ‘Dull pain throbbed in the back of her head where her skull had collided with the shatterproof glass.’
      • ‘His head throbbed against his skull, and he closed his eyes again, the light of the room making the migraine worse.’
      • ‘He also told a male that the lump on his head was his skull.’
      • ‘I put my hands behind my head to prop my skull up so I had a clear view of the ocean.’
      • ‘But light sears in, and I shudder, my entire body retching in the pain of my head and my skull.’
      • ‘Feeling the headache come from within her skull, she headed to the water basin and splashed some water on her face.’
      • ‘But here's the rub: each contestant is given just eight hours to cram their skull with their opponents' specialised subject.’
      • ‘History, being his subject, he crammed into their skulls time and time again, getting frustrated that they never remembered it.’
      • ‘She sat up swiftly from the floor but found that her neck was very sore and her head pounded beneath her skull.’
      • ‘Thoughts chased one another through my head until my skull ached from their haphazard flights.’
      • ‘Drake closed his eyes tightly as the voice in his head reverberated around his skull.’
      • ‘I felt its claws sink in my skull and shifted my head to look at it.’
      • ‘Ethan put a hand slowly to his head, feeling his skull.’
      • ‘She put the emphasis on the negative, hoping it would penetrate their thick skulls.’
      • ‘It was a quick, sharp pain in the back of his head from inside his skull.’
      • ‘Flora pounded her fists into her skull and shook her head.’
      • ‘She dodged the flying body and kicked Lars hard enough to crush his skull.’
      • ‘Her thoughts ran around in her head, pounding her skull.’
      cranium, crown
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[with object]informal
  • Hit (someone) on the head.

    • ‘He looked over at Andy, who was trying to skull the whole lot in one go!’
    • ‘On April Fool's Day 1997, dozens of people went out on skulling missions, hitting hundreds of billboards on busy Toronto streets.’
    • ‘If Joan were really around, she'd skull Le Pen with a spiked mace.’
    hit over the head, hit on the head, hit, strike, buffet, bang, knock, thwack, slug, welt, cuff, punch, smash
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  • out of one's skull

    • 1informal Out of one's mind; crazy.

      • ‘I think you're out of your skull for coming back.’
      • ‘When Rhi moved in I was very ill, depressed out of my skull, afraid of the world and generally an apathetic blob.’
      • ‘Anyone who seriously thought Lord Of The Rings was going to win the top honours is out of their skull.’
      • ‘‘I knew I would go out of my skull if I didn't work,’ she says.’
    • 2informal Very drunk.

      • ‘Emil's drunk out of his skull and Lexi's scared to death.’
      • ‘I was bored out of my skull listening to about two and a half hours of the above.’
      • ‘I hope Elvis was wasted out of his skull and bought it as a joke, but that's wishful thinking.’
      • ‘‘He was clearly out of his skull on drugs,’ he said.’
      • ‘I'm in Canada, and drunk out of my skull, mind you, so ignore me. / / thread rot…’
      • ‘She's the responsible one, even when she's hammered out of her skull.’
      • ‘People can feel there is nothing to identify with but David Beckham, and all that's left is to get out of your skull on drugs and alcohol.’
      intoxicated, inebriated, drunken, befuddled, incapable, tipsy, the worse for drink, under the influence, maudlin
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  • skull and crossbones

    • A representation of a skull with two thigh bones crossed below it as an emblem of piracy or death.

      • ‘It also had a reflective skull and crossbones on the front.’
      • ‘The battered and corroded drum, marked with a skull and crossbones, was discovered shortly after 9am.’
      • ‘Beneath it shimmered a hologram of, quite unpleasantly, a 3 - D bloodied skull and crossbones.’
      • ‘In addition, the label shall show a representation of a skull and crossbones.’
      • ‘This page about trans fats at the Harvard School of Public Health has a skull and crossbones at the top of it.’


Middle English scolle; of unknown origin; compare with Old Norse skoltr.