"Locavore" is Oxford Word-of-the-Year

Mark Mandel thnidu at GMAIL.COM
Mon Nov 19 22:36:22 UTC 2007

On Nov 15, 2007 7:45 AM, Dennis R. Preston <preston at msu.edu> wrote:

> Verbivores:
> Is there any rhyme or reason to the -vore versus -phagous suffixation
> for apparently natural dietary habits? Ichthyophagous seems pretty
> common for fish-eaters but herbivore seems to dominate everywhere.
> (Oooops! herbiphagous is there is the zoological lit.)
> I find both omnivore and omniphagous, and even fruit-eating bats are
> both carpophagous and fructivores. Do I sense a preference for adj in
> the -phagous and nouns in the -vore? Carnivorous is common, but I'm a
> little iffy about herbivorous and especially fructivorous (including
> stress placement, if carnivorous provides the right analogy).

I do believe that in the scholarly vocabularies you're referring to, the
difference is the language of derivation: Greek -phagous, -phagy, -phage
(even anthropo-) vs. Latin -vorous, -vory, -vore. I have no trouble with
herbivorous, and I've seen fructivorous and noticed it but only as
unfamiliar, not as troublesome.

m a m

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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