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variant of -phagy.
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Origin of -phagia

<New Latin <Greek
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does -phagia mean?

The combining form -phagia is used like a suffix meaning “eating” or “devouring” the thing specified by the first part of the word. It is used in some scientific and other technical terms, especially in biology.

The form -phagia 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.

The form -phagia is a variant of -phagy, as in cytophagy.

Want to know more? Read our Words That Use phagy article.

Closely related to -phagy are -phage and -phagous. A corresponding form of -phagy 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 -phagy

One example of a term that features the combining form -phagia is coprophagia, “eating dung,” as certain beetles do.

Copro- is a combining form that means “dung.” The second part of the word, -phagia, means “eating,” as we’ve seen. Coprophagia, then, literally translates to “dung-eating.”

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

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

Break it down!

The combining form onycho- means “fingernail” or “toenail.” With this in mind, onychophagia is a term used in psychiatry for what nervous behavior?

Medical definitions for -phagia


The eating of a specified substance or in a specified manner:dysphagia.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.