Printable Version
Pronunciation: o-o-sef-ê-lês Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: An egghead: a person, animal, or insect with an egg-shaped head.

Notes: Egghead has taken on such a pejorative sense that we need to find a more civil term for the concept. Oocephalus seems appropriate since only egg-heads (that is, oocephali) will understand it. Notice that both Os are pronounced: not like oo in kook, but like the interjection for an accident, "Oh-oh!" The adjective, meaning "having an egg-like head", is pronounced the same way as the noun, but is spelled oocephalous. You may use oocephali or oocephaluses as a plural. Oocephali prefer the former.

In Play: We have been trying to discourage offensive speech for years and even if this word is not less offensive than egghead, at least it is less comprehensible: "The R. Cain I know is a nerdy oocephalus who spends all his time in the library, collecting dust with the books there." We can now replace the fun of the insult with the fun of pronouncing this word: "Some oocephalus who has never done real work wrote the safety rules requiring that (1) construction vehicles make an audible signal when they back up and (2) all workmen wear earplugs on construction sites."

Word History: This funny word is a medical creation from Greek oion "egg" + kephale "head" + a Latinate suffix. Oion came from the Proto-Indo-European root awi "bird," which also produced Latin avis "bird", the origin of English avian and aviary. The Old Iranian word for "egg", avya, also came from this stem. It underwent several changes before Turkish adopted it from Persian as havyar. French then borrowed the Turkish word as caviar, the name of those salty fish eggs with the even saltier price.

Dr. Goodword,

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