Piles of –philes

Lesson: learning the suffix -phile and other awesomeness

If you find this photo strangely attractive, you might just be a Russophile.

Bibliophile. Logophile. Discophile. These are three words that describe me. Lover of books. Lover of words. Lover of “gramophone records.” When you add the suffix –phile to the end of a word, that’s what it denotes, a “lover of <insert whatever you love here>.” (That’s not all –phile means, but the rest is all sciencey, so we’ll talk about that after the cooler stuff.)

Here are more –phile words. Which ones describe you? (All definitions are from Oxford English Dictionary Online.)

Anglophile: a supporter or admirer of England (or Britain), its people, customs, etc.

astrophile: a lover of the stars

audiophile: a devotee of high-fidelity reproduction of sound

bibliophile: a lover of books; a book-fancier

cinephile: a film lover or enthusiast; a film buff

discophile: an enthusiast for and collector of gramophone records

enophile: a lover of wine

Francophile: fond of or having great admiration for France or the French

hippophile: a lover of horses

Japanophile: a lover of Japan or the Japanese

logophile: a lover of words.

necrophile: a person affected by necrophilia; one who is fascinated by death or dead bodies

technophile: a person who likes or readily adopts technology

theophile: one who loves God

pedophile: an adult who is sexually attracted to children

Russophile: friendly to, or favoring, Russia (or the former Soviet Union), its people, customs

xenophile: fond of or attracted by foreign things or people

videophile: one who is very keen on watching television or video recordings

If you’re a necrophile who’s reading this post: Hey, how are you doing? I think it’s great that you are interested in learning more about grammar and vocabulary and linguistics and all the other neat stuff we talk about on Grammar Party. You know, I try not to judge. And if you’re a Russophile, I think that’s okay, too. I mean, the Cold War is over. And, I have to admit, I think it’s cool that Vladimir Putin takes all those shirtless photos of himself on horses, and he beats up sharks or whatever. You’re also welcome to join in the conversation. But this next part is where I might lose some of you. This is the sciencey part I mentioned earlier. (Don’t worry. There’s other great stuff at the end.)

Other meaning of –phile

The suffix –phile is also used in biology and chemistry. This is how the Oxford English Dictionary describes it: forming nouns and adjectives with the sense “(a thing) having an affinity for a certain substance or class of substances, a particular kind of environment, etc., denoted by the first element.”

For example, the word halophile means (according to the OED) “an organism which grows in or can tolerate saline conditions.” Likewise, acidophile means (also according to the OED) “of a cell or cellular component: staining readily with an acid dye.” Yeah, sciencey stuff. But you get the drift.

-philia and –philic

The suffixes –philia and –philic are related to –phile. Philia is actually also a noun which means “amity, affection, friendship; fondness, liking,” coming from the ancient Greek word for “friendship.” (Thanks again to the OED for that one.) When you add –philia as a suffix, it means “love of <something.>” So, for instance, logophilia means “love of words.” And horolophilia means “a love of timepieces.” (Horloge is French for clock.) And, since we seem to be on some kind of roll with this one, necrophilia means “a love of dead bodies.”

Meanwhile, the suffix –philic means “liking/loving.” You can add it to the end of a word to make an adjective. As an example, for our friends of the dead, we could say, “He has necrophilic desires.” Okay, that’s enough with that talk. You get the idea.

Feel free to comment about while kind of –phile you are. And, as always, if you want more word nerdy stuff, you can follow me on twitter with the handle @GrammarParty. Happy trails.