[ big-uh-rek-see-uh ]
/ ˌbɪg əˈrɛk si ə /
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Origin of bigorexia

First recorded in 2005; big1 + (an)orexia
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What is bigorexia?

Bigorexia is an alternative name for muscle dysmorphia, a mental disorder in which a person perceives that their body is not muscular enough, leading to obsessive and unhealthy behaviors, such as compulsive exercising, use of anabolic steroids, and disordered eating. Bigorexia primarily affects men and teenage boys.

Muscle dysmorphia is widely considered a subtype of body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), a mental disorder characterized by distorted body image and obsessions about perceived physical shortcomings.

People with bigorexia tend to view their bodies as insufficiently lean or small, despite the fact that bigorexia is most common among people with average or even muscular body types. While bigorexia is more common among men, it has also been diagnosed in women.

In general, a person with bigorexia obsessively desires a large, muscular body (even if they already have one) and will go to unhealthy lengths to build body mass. While the specifics of bigorexia vary from person to person, common signs of bigorexia include an obsession with exercise, abnormal eating patterns and diets, and substance abuse (especially of anabolic steroids).

Health experts have noted a recent increase in diagnosed cases of bigorexia, especially among young males, that they attribute in part to the influence of social media content and other media that glorifies muscular physiques.

The adjective bigorexic is sometimes used (patterned on anorexic, the adjective form of anorexia).

Where does bigorexia come from?

The term muscle dysmorphia has been used in scientific literature since at least 1997. The use of bigorexia as an alternative name for the disorder seems to have emerged around 2000. The term bigorexia is a combination of big (in reference to the desire to make one’s body and muscles bigger) and the ending -orexia, prominently used in the name of the eating disorder anorexia nervosa. The name of another eating disorder, bulimarexia, has been in use since at least the 1970s and is also based on the ending from anorexia.

Awareness of bigorexia grew in the 2010s and 2020s in part due to mainstream media reports about an increase in diagnosed cases. Health experts often attribute this increase to the influence of social media content featuring men and teenage boys chronicling and promoting methods for achieving muscular physiques.

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What are some other forms related to bigorexia?

  • bigorexic (adjective)

What are some synonyms for bigorexia?

What are some words that share a root or word element with bigorexia

What are some words that often get used in discussing bigorexia?

How is bigorexia used in real life?

Bigorexia is another name for muscle dysmorphia. The term is more informal, but it’s sometimes used in formal medical contexts.