Definition of geophagy in English:



  • The practice of eating earth, especially chalk or clay in famine-stricken regions.

    • ‘Howler monkeys are well known to engage in geophagy, or earth eating, though the reason they do it remains unclear.’
    • ‘For many years, parrots and macaws had been observed on the river banks in the Amazonian forests of Peru biting off and swallowing chunks of orange clay - a practice known as geophagy.’
    • ‘The following quotation serves both to illustrate his main point, that geophagy has been widespread, and to exhibit the pleasant style in which he wrote.’
    • ‘It may explain, for example, occurrence of geophagy in parrots, which consume large quantities of secondary metabolites in fruits and seeds.’
    • ‘Mineral supplementation is usually postulated as the purpose of this behavior, and most geophagy by G. agassizii is on calcium-rich substrates by adult females.’


Mid 19th century: from geo- earth + Greek phagia eating, feeding (from phagein eat).