Definition of autocephalous in English:


Pronunciation /ˌôdəˈsefələs/ /ˌɔdəˈsɛfələs/


  • (of an Eastern Christian Church) appointing its own head, not subject to the authority of an external patriarch or archbishop.

    ‘Further, the Orthodox tradition, with its autocephalous churches and sufficiently full agreement in doctrine, presents an alternative to centralized authority.’
    • ‘The Albanian Orthodox Archdiocese in America is an autocephalous church established in 1908.’
    • ‘Obviously, further definition is needed in this area to describe the relationships between autocephalous and national church communities, for example, but we cannot go into this here.’
    • ‘The fourteen autocephalous and autonomous churches were invited to send official delegates to this important event.’


Mid 19th century from Greek autokephalos (from autos ‘self’ + kephalē ‘head’) + -ous.