Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The eating of earthy substances, such as clay or chalk, practiced among various peoples as a custom or for dietary or subsistence reasons.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The practice of eating earthy substances such as clay and chalk, often thought to augment a mineral-deficient diet.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The act or practice of eating earth, as dirt, clay, chalk, etc. See dirt-eating. Also geophagism.

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

Etymologies

From geo- (earth) and the suffix -phagy (to feed on) (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Well, you might be surprised that many cultures, from the ancient Greeks to modern-day Saharan tribes participate in geophagy – or eating dirt.

    Feeling Hungry? Eat Some Dirt | myFiveBest

  • In fact, dirt eating, known as geophagy, is so prevalent in some parts of the world that scientists and anthropologists think that nutritional deficits may bring on the craving.

    mental_floss Blog

  • Far from being a dysfunctional behavior, geophagy has evolved as a practice for maintaining health amongst chimpanzees.

    Archive 2008-01-01

  • An interesting press release here, on geophagy (soil eating) in chimpanzees.

    Archive 2008-01-01

  • In this particular study (1), to be published online this week in Springer’s journal Naturwissenschaften, geophagy increases the potency of ingested plants with anti-malarial properties.

    Archive 2008-01-01

  • The deliberate ingestion of soil, or ‘geophagy’, has important health benefits for chimpanzees, according to Sabrina Krief and her colleagues from the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris, France.

    Archive 2008-01-01

  • Anyway, there was a really good Nova? special on geophagy 5-6 years ago.

    Is a 3-yr-old who eats paper normal?

  • Known as geophagy or "earth eating" macaws feed on clays to counteract poisons from the seeds in fruit they eat.

    Archive 2008-07-01

  • Never mind that geophagy was and probably still is practiced right here in the US of A.

    Firedoglake » The Media Counterpunch

  • The attention of physiologists, since my return from the Orinoco, having been powerfully directed to these phenomena of geophagy, M. Leschenault (one of the naturalists of the expedition to the Antarctic regions under the command of captain Baudin) has published some curious details on the tanaampo, or ampo, of the

    Travels to the Equinoctial Regions of America

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