Definitions

sesquipedalian

-phobia

The English suffixes -phobia, -phobic, -phobe (of Greek origin: φόβος/φοβία ) occur in technical usage in psychiatry to construct words that describe irrational, disabling fear as a mental disorder (e.g., agoraphobia), in chemistry to describe chemical aversions (e.g., hydrophobic), in biology to describe organisms that dislike certain conditions (e.g., acidophobia), and in medicine to describe hypersensitivity to a stimulus, usually sensory (e.g., photophobia). In common usage they also form words that describe dislike or hatred of a particular thing or subject. The suffix is antonymic to -phil-.

Many people apply the suffix -phobia inappropriately to mild or irrational fears with no serious substance; however, earlier senses relate to psychiatry which studies serious phobias which disable a person's life. For more information on the psychiatric side of this, including how psychiatry groups phobias as agoraphobia, social phobia, or simple phobia, see phobia.

The following lists include words ending in -phobia, and include fears that have acquired names. In many cases people have coined these words as neologisms, and only a few of them occur in the medical literature. In many cases, the naming of phobias has become a word game, of notable example being a 1998 humorous article published by BBC News.

Note too that no things, substances, or even concepts exist which someone, somewhere may not fear, sometimes irrationally so. A list of all possible phobias would run into many thousands.

Most of these terms tack the suffix -phobia onto a Greek word for the object of the fear (some use a combination of a Latin root with the Greek suffix, which many classicists consider linguistically impure).

In some cases (particularly the less medically-oriented usages), a word ending in -phobia may have an antonym with the suffix -phil-, e.g., Germanophobe / Germanophile.

See also the Phobias.

Phobia lists

A large number of-phobia lists circulate on the Internet, with words collected from indiscriminate sources, often copying each other. Also, a number of psychiatric websites exist that at the first glance cover a huge number of phobias, but in fact use a standard text to fit any phobia and reuse it for all unusual phobias by merely changing the name. Such practice is known as content spamming and is used to attract search engines.

Psychological conditions

In many cases specialists prefer to avoid the suffix -phobia and use more descriptive terms, see, e.g., personality disorders, anxiety disorders, avoidant personality disorder, love-shyness.

Zoophobias

Non-psychological conditions

The following medical conditions have nothing to do with irrational fears. However, each usually has a psychological disorder of the same name which is an irrational fear. The behavior of an individual with the medical condition can be similar to the behavior of an individual with the psychological disorder of the same name (e.g., for both usages of Photophobia the person avoids light). The difference in usage is that for the medical term there is an underlying physiological condition that results in the behavior. For example, with medical Photophobia the hypersensitivity to light is sufficient such that at some light levels the person experiences pain which they avoid by seeking darkness. Removing the physiological cause of the hypersensitivity to light results in the person no longer avoiding light. With psychological Photophobia the person fears the light even though there is no current physiological pain caused by light.

Biology, chemistry

Biologists use a number of -phobia/-phobic terms to describe predispositions by plants and animals against certain conditions. For antonyms, see here.

Prejudices

One can readily use the suffix -phobia to coin a term that denotes a particular anti-ethnic or anti-demographic sentiment, such as Francophobia. Often a synonym with the prefix "anti-" already exists (e.g., Polonophobia vs. anti-Polonism). See "List of anti-ethnic terms" for more examples. Anti-religious sentiments are expressed in terms such as Christianophobia and Islamophobia.

Other prejudices include

Jocular and fictional phobias

  • Aibohphobia — a joke term for the fear of palindromes, which is a palindrome itself.
  • Anachrophobia — fear of temporal displacement, from a Doctor Who novel by Jonathan Morris.
  • Anatidaephobia — fear that somewhere, somehow, a duck is watching you (fictional, from a Gary Larson cartoon published in The Far Side Gallery, 4).
  • Anoraknophobia- fear of spiders wearing anoraks: it is a portmanteau of "anorak" and "arachnophobia. Used in the Wallace and Gromit comic book Anoraknophobia Also the title of an album by Marillion.
  • Arachibutyrophobia — fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of the mouth. The word is used by Peter O'Donnell in his 1985 Modesty Blaise adventure novel Dead Man's Handle. It had circulated, unattributed, in the Internet for some time until it landed at the CTRN Phobia Clinic website: "Working one-on-one with one of our team, with guaranteed lifetime elimination of Sticky Peanut Butter Phobia. From $1497 and up."
  • Arachnophobiaphobia — the fear of people who are afraid of spiders. From Gilmore Girls episode 6.22, "Partings":
  • :LORELAI: What's it called when you're afraid of people who are afraid of spiders? ‘Cause that one I’ve got.
  • :EMILY: Oh, lord.
  • :CAROLYN: I don't think there's a technical term for that yet.
  • :LORELAI: How about arachnophobiaphobia? 'Cause that makes sense.
  • Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia — fear of long words. Hippopoto- "big" due to its allusion to the Greek-derived word hippopotamus (though this is derived as hippo- "horse" compounded with potam-os "river", so originally meaning "river horse"; according to the Oxford English, "hippopotamine" has been construed as large since 1847, so this coinage is reasonable); -monstr- is from Latin words meaning "monstrous", -o- is a noun-compounding vowel; -sesquipedali- comes from "sesquipedalian" meaning a long word (literally "a foot and a half long" in Latin), -o- is a noun-compounding vowel, and -phobia means "fear". Note: This was mentioned on the first episode of Brainiac Series Five as one of Tickle's Teasers.
  • Luposlipaphobia — the fear of being pursued by timber wolves around a kitchen table while wearing socks on a newly-waxed floor (fictional, also from Gary Larson in the cartoon series The Far Side).
  • Venustraphobia, fear of beautiful women, according to a 1998 humorous article published by BBC News. The word is a portmanteau of "Venus trap" and "phobia". Venustraphobia is the title of a 2006 album by Casbah Club.

Miscellaneous

References

  • Chris Aldrich The Aldrich Dictionary of Phobias and Other Word Families. Trafford Publishing. ISBN 1-55369-886-X.

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