In a word: dolichocephalic

August 27, 2012|By John E. McIntyre | The Baltimore Sun

Each week The Sun's John McIntyre presents a moderately obscure but evocative word with which you may not be acquainted, another brick to add to the wall of your working vocabulary. This week's word:


There are classifications for noggins, but the basic one is whether yours is long or wide.

If you have a long head,a skull with a breadth that it less than 75 or 80 percent of its length, you are dolichocephalic (dahl-uh-koh-suh-FAL-ik), or long-headed.

If your skull is broad and short, its breadth 80 percent or more of its length, you are brachycephalic (brak-uh-suh-FAL-ik).

Both words derive from the Greek, dolikhos, "long," and brakhus, "short," combined with kephalikos, "head."

Example: In Conan Doyle's Hound of the Baskervilles, Dr. James Mortimer says to  Sherlock Holmes, "“I had hardly expected so dolichocephalic a skull or such well-marked supra-orbital development. Would you have any objection to my running my finger along your parietal fissure? A cast of your skull, sir, until the original is available, would be an ornament to any anthropological museum. It is not my intention to be fulsome, but I confess that I covet your skull.”

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