Some people, you just don’t know what is going on in their heads.

It’s not that they’re psychotic. They may not even be neurotic. But they have something exotic in that skull of theirs. It’s like their brain is made of cheese, either blue or Swiss or some runny smelly thing or maybe something unduly hard. They’re just… not quite right in the skull. You know. Kefalotic.

Does kefalotic look weirdly put together, somehow? Like two bits from different piles got tossed on the same tray? It’s all Greek-derived, I assure you. It’s just that the two pieces weren’t derived at the same time. They’re marching to different drummers.

The oticdoesn’t refer to ears this time; it’s from -ωτικός -otikos, which has for a long time been in English as the suffix -otic for making adjectives pertaining to a process or action (symbiotic, semiotic) as well as pertaining to a disease or abnormal condition (psychotic, sclerotic). The kefal is seen also in the word kefalotyri, from κεφαλοτύρι, which refers to a hard cheese but literally means ‘head cheese’ – the κεφαλο means ‘head’. You more often see it in the old form that came by way of Latin: cephalo, as in cephalogram and cephalosporin. So kefalotic can refer to what’s going on in your head (kefalotic processes), but more typically it refers to something wrong going on in your head.

So why not cephalotic? Well, that means ‘having an ear in the middle of the head’ (because of that other sense of otic). And anyway, this word didn’t come by way of Latin. It was assembled in English of Greek parts. So the more directly transliterative spelling kefal was used, but with the otic that is a productive suffix in English. It may seem weird, but there are reasons.

There are always reasons, of course. To a kefalotic person it all makes perfect sense. It’s just… opaque to others. Or strangely put together.

And so you may think me kefalotic, but I put this word together the way I wanted to. Because reasons. It’s my new old word, and you can’t make me do it any other way.

2 responses to “kefalotic

  1. Kefalotic — LOVE this word! My family and friends would say that I’m quite kefalotic!

  2. It’s a great word for describing how my head feels now as I suffer with a cold.

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