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[jee-of-uh-jee] /dʒiˈɒf ə dʒi/
the practice of eating earthy matter, especially clay or chalk, as in famine-stricken areas.
Also, geophagia
[jee-uh-fey-juh, -jee-uh] /ˌdʒi əˈfeɪ dʒə, -dʒi ə/ (Show IPA),
[jee-of-uh-jiz-uh m] /dʒiˈɒf əˌdʒɪz əm/ (Show IPA)
1840-50; geo- + -phagy
Related forms
geophagist, noun
[jee-of-uh-guh s] /dʒiˈɒf ə gəs/ (Show IPA),
adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for geophagy
  • Many species, for example, consume dirt-a behaviour known as geophagy.
  • There's a habit that's had scientists puzzled: the practice of geophagy-eating dirt.
  • The habit of eating clay, mud or dirt is known as geophagy, and is an accepted practice in some parts of the world.
  • Direct ingestion of environmental contaminants: geophagy in two sympatric shorebird species.
British Dictionary definitions for geophagy


the practice of eating earth, clay, chalk, etc, found in some primitive tribes
(zoology) the habit of some animals, esp earthworms, of eating soil
Derived Forms
geophagist, noun
geophagous (dʒɪˈɒfəɡəs) adjective
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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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
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geophagy in Medicine

geophagy ge·oph·a·gy (jē-ŏf'ə-jē) or ge·oph·a·gism (-jĭz'əm) or ge·o·pha·gia (jē'ə-fā'jə)
The eating of earthy substances, such as clay or chalk, that is practiced as a custom or for dietary or subsistence reasons. Also called dirt-eating.

ge·oph'a·gist n.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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