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Suffixes with the common part -phil- (-phile, -philia, -philic) are used to specify some kind of attraction or affinity to something, in particular the love or obsession with something. They are antonymic to suffixes -phob-.

Phil- (Philo-) may also be used as a prefix with a similar meaning.

Philia (φιλία) as an ancient Greek word for love refers to brotherly love, including friendship and affection. This contrast to the ancient Greek terms Eros, or sexual/romantic love, and agapē, or detached, spiritual love. English usage differs in some cases from the etymological use, and several of these words refer in English not to brotherly love but to sexual attraction.

The suffix "-phile" (or, in a few cases, -philiac) applies to someone or something with one of these attractions.

The suffix "-philic" describes the property of being attracted to something.

The less common suffix "-phily" is synonymous with "-philia".

There are five major areas of usage of this suffix: biology, sexology, chemistry/physics, hobbies, and attitude to specific nations, with occasional coinage in other areas.



  • acidophilia / acidophile: Preference of acidic conditions
  • alkaliphilia / alkaliphile: Preference of alkaline environments.
  • anthophilia / anthophile / anthophilic: Attraction to flowers.
  • anthrophile / anthrophilic: Attracted to humans (e.g., parasites).
  • anemophily: a form of pollination whereby pollen is distributed by wind.
  • cryophilia / cryophilic / cryophile: Preference for cold environments, climates, objects and low temperatures; e.g., Protea cryophila (Snow Protea).
  • dendrophilia / dendrophilic / dendrophile: Preference of trees or other plants.
  • entomophilous: Adapted for pollination by insects.
  • extremophilia / extremophile: Preference of living extremal conditions for some microorganisms.
  • geophilia / geophilic / Geophile Referring to organisms that prefer the soil.
  • halophilia / halophile: Attraction/attracted to salt or salt-water.
  • heliophilia / heliophile: Attraction/attracted to sunlight.
  • hydrophilia: Attraction to water.
  • hyperthermophilia / hyperthermophile / hyperthermophilic: Describing organisms that thrive in extremely hot environments.
  • limnophilia / limnophile / limnophilic: Preference of ponds or marshes.
  • lithophilia / lithophile / litophilic: Preference/affinity to stones.
  • mesophilia / mesophile: Preference of moderate temperatures in microorganisms.
  • microaerophilia / microaerophile / Microaerophilic: of organisms that can tolerate or require environments containing low levels of oxygen.
  • myrmecophilia: in names of orchids of genus myrmecophila, "love of ants"
  • nemophilia: Love of the woods/forests, in the name of the genus Nemophilia of flowers.
  • nyctophilia: A preference for darkness or night.
  • ombrophilia / ombrophile: Affinity/affined to large amounts of rainfall.
  • petrophilia / petrophile / petrophilic: Preference of living or spending time in rocky areas.
  • photophilia / photophile / photophilic: Preference of living or spending time in lighted conditions.
  • psammophile: A plant loving sandy areas (psammophyte).
  • psychrophilia / psychrophile: Preference of cold temperatures.
  • rheophilia: Preference of living in running water.
  • rhizophilia: Preference of living on roots.
  • thermophilia: Love of high temperatures; thriving in high temperatures (e.g. microbes).
  • tropophilia / tropophile / tropophilous: Preference of seasonal extremes of climate.
  • xerophilia: Love of living or spending time in very dry conditions.
  • xylophilia: Love of wood.
  • zoophily: a form of pollination whereby pollen is distributed by animals.

Chemistry / physics

  • chromophilous: Staining easily
  • electrophile: A substance having an affinity for electrons or negative charge
  • lipophilic: A substance that is attracted to lipids, as in cell membranes.
  • litophilic: In microfluidics, the fact that some substances enrich on channel walls instead of in the middle of the channels. (eg. air bubbles)
  • nucleophile: A substance having an affinity for positive charge; antonym of electrophile.




Prefix “phil-”


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary




Ancient Greek φιλία ((fraternal) love).



  1. (pathology) Forming words meaning "an abnormal liking for or tendency towards a given thing".


Derived terms

Related terms


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