zerophagy - not in OED (or should it be xerophagy?)

Alison Murie sagehen7470 at ATT.NET
Thu Nov 19 20:38:55 UTC 2009

On Nov 19, 2009, at 1:47 PM, Joel S. Berson wrote:

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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET>
> Subject:      zerophagy - not in OED (or should it be xerophagy?)
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Is the "zerophagy" below something new, or the author's/printer's
> spelling of  (or error for) "xerophagy"?
> Edward E. Bourne
> _The History of Wells and Kennebunk ..._
> Portland: B. Thurston, 1875.
> p. 126.
> [Describing the primitiveness of the early settlers circa the 1660s,
> and the laws of the time.]
> Every man's volitions or actions were prescribed by some rule, which
> would establish a dead uniformity through all the features and
> activities of human society.  They denounced all manifestations of
> human taste, all exhibitions of peculiar thought, all attempts to
> imitate the beautiful in nature, or to break up the monotony which
> these wiseacres deemed the only acceptable service of the good
> Providence. A zerophagy, spiritual as well as material, was to be the
> regular canon of life.
> [For those wishing more context,  available in Google Books, full
> text.]
> No spellings of "zerophag*' in the OED.
> The closest I can come in the above quotation to "xerophagy", "The
> eating of dry food, esp. as form of fasting practised in the early
> church" (OED), is a figurative extension of it emanating from
> Bourne's use of the word "taste" (also in a figurative sense) in the
> previous sentence.  A Google search turns up a few (41 becoming 11)
> hits for "zerography" used for (i.e., as the spelling of)
> "xerography", including a Roget.
> Joel
If involuntary, starvation; if voluntary, extreme anorexia or fasting!

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