- the practice of eating earthy matter, especially clay or chalk, as in famine-stricken areas.
Also ge·o·pha·gia [jee-uh-fey-juh, -jee-uh] /ˌdʒi əˈfeɪ dʒə, -dʒi ə/, ge·oph·a·gism [jee-of-uh-jiz-uh m] /dʒiˈɒf əˌdʒɪz əm/.
Origin of geophagy
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for geophagy
The Whites settled in South America are likewise addicted to geophagy.The Races of Man
geophagia (ˌdʒɪəˈfeɪdʒə, -dʒɪə) or geophagism (dʒɪˈɒfədʒɪzəm)
- the practice of eating earth, clay, chalk, etc, found in some primitive tribes
- zoology the habit of some animals, esp earthworms, of eating soil
Word Origin and History for geophagy
"dirt-eating," 1850, from Greek *geophagia (according to OED the actual Greek is geotragia), from geo-, comb. form of ge "earth" (see Gaia) + phagein "to eat."
A diseased appetite ... prevails in several parts of Alabama, where they eat clay. I heard various speculations on the origin of this singular propensity, called 'geophagy' in some medical books. [Lyell, "Second Visit to U.S.," 1850]
Cf. also pica (n.2).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
- The eating of earthy substances, such as clay or chalk, that is practiced as a custom or for dietary or subsistence reasons.dirt-eating