Annals of lexicography

Arnold Zwicky's Blog

From Cabinet magazine, issue 49 (Spring 2013), in “Leftovers / Cephalophoric Reason” by Eigil zu Tage-Ravn, about French folklorist Émile Nourry’s

exhaustive “Les saints céphalophores,” seventy-three closely researched pages documenting, in old French and Latin sources, more than 120 instances of saints engaging in “cephalophory” – i.e., carrying their own severed heads.

Cephalaphory. Transparent, I guess, if you know enough Greek (though even then you’d only get ‘head-carrying, head-bearing’, not specifically ‘carrying one’s own severed head’). Not a word most of us would have a use for, but arresting and entertaining.

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