• macrocephaly •
Pronunciation: mæ-krê-se-fê-li • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun, mass
Meaning: Big-headedness, the state of having an unusually large head.
Notes: Today's Good Word is another we hope to drag out of the recondite recesses of medical terminology. It should not be confused with megalocephaly or megacephaly which are often accompanied by developmental mental problems. Macrocephaly refers to a head that is statistically larger than others. You may choose between two adjectives: macrocephalic or macrocephalous.
In Play: You have probably already guessed where we are going with today's Good Word: "Gloria's big raise and promotion seem to have given her a bad case of macrocephaly; she seldom talks to me any more." Now you can speak about the people with swollen heads you know in a way they won't understand—they may even think you're complimenting them: "Phil Anders comes on to every woman in the office, but none are impressed with his macrocephalous stories about himself."
Word History: When we take apart today's Good Word we find Greek makros "large" + kephale "head" plus a common English suffix, -y. Makros comes from a Proto-Indo-European root that originally meant "long, slender", which explains how it came to English as meager, borrowed from French maigre "skinny", which was inherited from Latin macer "thin". The same root that developed into Greek kephale came to English as gable, probably borrowed from Old Norse gafl with the same meaning.