"headless," 1731, from French acéphale + -ous or directly from Late Latin acephalus, from Greek akephalos. See a- (3) "not" + cephalo- "head." Principally in botany and zoology, but also "without a leader" (1751). The Acephali "fabulous men with no heads" is from c. 1600, from Late Latin plural of acephalus, from Greek akephalos; also in Church history in reference to sects that refused to have priests or bishops (1620s). Related: Acephalian (1580s); acephalic (1650s).