1. a combining form occurring in adjectives that correspond to nouns ending in -phile:


  2. a combining form used to form adjectives that characterize classes of substances or organisms with an affinity for a chemical, environment, etc., as specified by the initial element:

    acidophilic; cryophilic.

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Word History and Origins

Origin of -philic1


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Words That Use -philic

What does -philic mean?

The combining form -philic is used like a suffix to indicate the adjective form of words that use the form -phile, meaning “love or liking,” “unnatural attraction,” or “tendency.”

The form -philic roughly means “characterized by a liking, tendency, or attraction.” In scientific terms, -philic is specifically used to label groups of organisms with a particular affinity for an environment, substance, or other element. It is frequently used in scientific and everyday terms, especially in biology.

The form -philic is made from a combination of two combining forms. The first is -phile, from Greek phílos, meaning “dear, beloved.” The second form is the suffix -ic. The suffix -ic ultimately comes from Greek -ikos, which was an ending used to form adjectives.

While -philic doesn’t have any variants, it is related to six other combining forms: -phile, -philia, -philiac, -philism, -philous, and -phily. Want to know more? Check out our Words that Use articles for each form.

Examples of -philic

A good example of a scientific term that features the form -philic is cryophilic, “preferring or thriving at low temperatures.”

The first part of the word, cryo-, means “icy cold” or “frost,” from Greek krýos. As we’ve seen, -philic means “characterized by a liking, tendency, or attraction.” Cryophilic literally translates to “characterized by a liking for icy cold.”

What are some words that use the combining form –philic?

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

Break it down!

The combining form cyto- means “cell.” With this in mind, what does cytophilic mean in everyday language?