Pronounced: (as you think: “old” and “speak”)
Notes: I haven’t heard this word, but I have heard a similar word
The word acephalous means
- lacking a head or having the head reduced
- lacking a governing head or chief
Background / Comments
As I noted, I should have thought a bit more about this word: I think I first saw “ace” and “phalous” and didn’t have a clue, but had I tried “a” and “cephalous”, I could have been closer. In the beginning of the Sherlock Holmes story The Hound of the Bakervilles, the new client (James Mortimer) describes Mr Holmes’ skull as dolichocephalic. Somewhere else, I’ve heard other words that describe the shape of a skull, all with ‘cephalic’ as part of them. Thus, I should have been able to guess something along the lines of ‘not’ from the “a”, and ‘having a head’ from the “cephalous”. This turns out to be the case as the word comes from Medieval Latin meaning “headless”. It meant clerics not under a bishop or lines of verse with the first part missing or abbreviated. The Latin comes from Greek a- (not) and kephalē (head).
This word showed up in the mid-1700s.