Header image of wall of bricks with affixes


Also ‑phil, ‑philia, ‑phily, ‑philic, and ‑philous.

Lover of or enthusiast for; having an affinity with a given thing.

Greek philos, loving.

Several broad groups are linked within this ending. One set denotes an admirer of the customs, people, or institutions of a country: Anglophile, Francophile, Slavophile, Japanophile. Another marks an enthusiast for the cultural products of a medium (audiophile, cinephile, videophile), or for some subject area (bibliophile, a lover of books; oenophile, a connoisseur of wines; technophile, a person who is enthusiastic about new technology). It also appears in names for abnormal psychological states: a paedophile (US pedophile) (Greek pais, paid‑, child, boy) is a person who is sexually attracted to children; a zoophile (Greek zōion, animal) can be a person with a morbid attraction to animals (though it is also used for a micro-organism that attacks animals).

In biology, the ending often indicates an organism, especially a micro-organism, that prefers a particular habitat, as in halophile, one that grows in or can tolerate saline conditions; thermophile, one that grows best at higher than normal temperatures; and extremophile, one that lives in conditions of extreme temperature, acidity, alkalinity, or chemical concentration.

The ending ‑phil can be a variant spelling, but most commonly names cells that have an affinity for certain dyes, such as neutrophil, one readily stained only by neutral dyes; eosinophil, a white blood cell containing granules that are readily stained by eosin; argyrophil (Greek arguros, silver), one readily stained black by silver salts.

Nouns in ‑philia denote the type of affinity: logophilia (Greek logos, word, reason), a love of words; haemophilia (US hemophilia) (Greek haima, blood), a medical condition in which the ability of the blood to clot is severely reduced; necrophilia (Greek nekros, corpse), sexual intercourse with or attraction towards corpses. Nouns in ‑phily often refer to the collection of items as a hobby or pursuit, for example cartophily (French carte or Italian carta, card), the collecting of picture cards, such as postcards or cigarette cards, or scriptophily (English scrip, a certificate), the collection of old bond and share certificates.

Adjectives are formed in ‑philic (hydrophilic, having a tendency to mix with, dissolve in, or be wetted by water), or in ‑philous (entomophilous, of a plant or flower that is pollinated by insects; anemophilous (Greek anemos, wind), wind-pollinated).

For their opposites, see ‑phobia.

Visit Michael Quinion’s World Wide Words site for 3000+ articles on English!

Copyright © Michael Quinion 2008–. All rights reserved. Your comments are very welcome.