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a combining form meaning “eating,” “devouring” that specified by the initial element, especially as a practice or habit: allotriophagy; anthropophagy.
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“Was” is used for the indicative past tense of “to be,” and “were” is only used for the subjunctive past tense.
Also -phagia.

Origin of -phagy

<Greek -phagia;see -phage, -y3
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does -phagy mean?

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

The form -phagy 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.

What are variants of -phagy?

The combining form -phagia, as in polyphagia, is an occasional variant of -phagy.

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 from biology that features the combining form -phagy is cytophagy, meaning “the ingestion of cells by other cells.”

Cyto- is a combining form that means “cell.” The second part of the word, -phagy, means “eating,” as we’ve seen. Cytophagy, then, literally translates to “cell-eating.”

And anthropophagy is a fancy word for the rather grisly act of cannibalism (it literally means “human-eating.)

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

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

Break it down!

The combining form geo- means “earth.” With this in mind, what is geophagy?

British Dictionary definitions for -phagy



n combining form
indicating an eating or devouringanthropophagy

Word Origin for -phagy

from Greek -phagia; 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 -phagy


Variant of-phagia
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.