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Definition & Meaning: encephalo- Word Root

The root word encephalo- derives from the Greek word enkephalos, meaning “inside the head.” This root is central to many terms related to the brain and its functions. To illustrate the significance of this root, consider the following quote:

“You have got to win in your mind before you win in your life.”

Various words are formed from the root encephalo-, emphasizing its connection to the brain. For example, encephalitis refers to inflammation of the brain, typically caused by infection or an allergic reaction. Encephalopathy describes any disease affecting brain function, such as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE or mad cow disease). Additionally, encephalomyelitis (with myelos meaning marrow) indicates inflammation of the brain and spinal cord, usually due to acute viral infection. Techniques like encephalography record the brain’s structure or electrical activity, results of which are displayed in an encephalogram. In anatomy and zoology, the brain is formally referred to as the encephalon, with the typical adjective being encephalic.

Diagram showing words derived from the root word "encephalo-" with meanings.

Words Based on the encephalo- Word Root

Commonly Used Words based on this Word Root

  • Encephalopathy: Any of various conditions affecting the brain.
  • Encephalitis: Inflammation of the brain.
  • Encephalogram: A record of the brain’s electrical activity.
  • Encephalon: The brain, particularly in anatomical or zoological contexts.

Archaic Words based on this Word Root

  • Encephalocele: A hernia of the brain and its membranes through an opening in the skull.

Technical Words/Jargon based on this Word Root

  • Encephalomyelitis: Inflammation of the brain and spinal cord.
  • Encephalomyelitogenic: Tending to rouse, or to be roused by, encephalomyelitis.
  • Encephalomyeloradiculoneuropathy: A disease affecting the brain, spinal nerves, and peripheral nervous system.
  • Encephalopsin: An opsin that is expressed within the brain.

Related Word Roots

Exploring related roots enhances our understanding of language’s interconnectedness:

    • Cerebro- (Latin): Pertaining to the brain, as in cerebrovascular (relating to the blood vessels of the brain) and cerebrum (the principal part of the brain).
    • Neuro- (Greek): Relating to nerves or the nervous system, seen in neurology (the study of the nervous system) and neurosurgeon (a surgeon specializing in the nervous system).
    • Psycho- (Greek): Pertaining to the mind, used in psychology (the study of the mind and behavior) and psychotherapy (the treatment of mental disorders by psychological methods).

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