from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. Consumption of clay, chalk or dirt.
from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.
- n. eating earth, clay, chalk; occurs in some primitive tribes, sometimes in cases of nutritional deficiency or obsessive behavior
Sorry, no etymologies found.
I thought that was an irrelevant example, because people don't normally eat tobacco and tobacco use is such a recent invention in human history that I can't see how it could have anything to do with the origin of geophagia that is said to have been practiced in ancient Sumeria.
An interesting news article by Trevor Stokes in this week's Nature vol. 444, pp.543-544 is about geophagia, the practice of eating soil, usually clay, by humans.
The article reports that geophagia is present in many parts of the world, but from the examples mentioned, it seems to be most prevalent among African children and pregnant women.
(Via Archinect Forum.) 3) Cabinet Magazine on geophagia.