[ feyj ]
/ feɪdʒ /
Save This Word!

Were you ready for a quiz on this topic? Well, here it is! See how well you can differentiate between the uses of "was" vs. "were" in this quiz.
Question 1 of 7
“Was” is used for the indicative past tense of “to be,” and “were” is only used for the subjunctive past tense.

Origin of phage

By shortening, or independent use of -phage

Other definitions for phage (2 of 2)


a combining form meaning “a thing that devours,” used in the formation of compound words, especially the names of phagocytes: macrophage.
Also -phag.
Compare phago-, -phagous, -phagy.

Origin of -phage

Noun use of Greek -phagos-phagous
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does -phage mean?

The combining form -phage is used like a suffix meaning “a thing that devours.” It is used in many scientific terms, especially in biology.

The form -phage ultimately comes from the Greek phageîn, meaning “to eat, devour.” This Greek root also helps form the word esophagus. Discover the connection at our entry for the word. The word phage, referring to a bacteriophage, is a shortened or independent use of the combining form -phage

Closely related to -phage are -phagia, -phagy, and -phagous. Their corresponding form combined to the beginning of words is phago-. Learn more about their specific applications at our Words That Use articles for the forms.

Examples of -phage

One example of a term that features the form -phage is bibliophage, a fancy term for a bookworm. A bibliophage is someone who is “an ardent reader.”

The first portion of the word, biblio-, may look familiar. It means “book,” from the Greek biblíon. As we have seen, -phage means “a thing that devours.” Bibliophage literally translates to “a thing that devours books.” Yum!

What are some words that use the combining form -phage?

What are some other forms that -phage may be commonly confused with?

Break it down!

The combining form xylo- means “wood.” With this in mind, what kind of insect is a xylophage?

British Dictionary definitions for phage (1 of 2)

/ (feɪdʒ) /

short for bacteriophage

British Dictionary definitions for phage (2 of 2)


n combining form
indicating something that eats or consumes something specifiedbacteriophage

Derived forms of -phage

-phagous, adj combining form

Word Origin for -phage

from Greek -phagos; see phago-
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Medical definitions for phage (1 of 2)

[ fāj ]


Medical definitions for phage (2 of 2)


One that eats:macrophage.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.