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

ge·oph′a·gism n.
ge·oph′a·gist n.


(dʒɪˈɒfədʒɪ) ,




1. (Anthropology & Ethnology) the practice of eating earth, clay, chalk, etc, found in some primitive tribes
2. (Zoology) zoology the habit of some animals, esp earthworms, of eating soil
geˈophagist n
geophagous adj


(dʒiˈɒf ə dʒi)

also ge•o•pha•gia

(ˌdʒi əˈfeɪ dʒə, -dʒi ə)

the practice of eating earthy matter, esp. clay or chalk, as in famine-stricken areas.
ge•oph′a•gous (-gəs) adj.

geophagism, geophagy, geophagia

the eating of earthy matter, especially clay or chalk. — geophagist, n. — geophagous, adj.
See also: Earth
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.geophagy - eating earth, clay, chalk; occurs in some primitive tribes, sometimes in cases of nutritional deficiency or obsessive behavior
pica - an eating disorder, frequent in children, in which non-nutritional objects are eaten persistently


, geophagism, geophagy
n. geofagia, geofagismo, propensión a comer sustancias terrosas tales como tierra o barro.
References in periodicals archive ?
I tested my hypothesis by collecting and analyzing, for texture and mineral composition, the soils used by the Flicker and then compared these values to those reported by others documenting geophagy in birds.
Formative research on hygiene behaviors and geophagy among infants and young children and implications of exposure to fecal bacteria.
Effects of weather on parrot geophagy in Tambopata, Peru.
The toxic compounds in the soil can be absorbed by humans through direct skin contact, inhalation, ingestion of percolated water or geophagy (Watanabe & Hirayama, 2001; Van De Wiele, Verstraete, & Siciliano, 2004).
Wild Things offers a diverse collection of chapters on environmental history, ranging in coverage geographically from North America, Germany and Britain through Madagascar and Haiti, temporally from the mid-nineteenth through the early twenty-first centuries, and topically from hunting and wildlife, colonial and post-colonial encounters with nature, through German folk tales, geophagy and Cold War-era underwater laboratories.
One study demonstrating soil ingestion, or geophagy, by bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis) in Alberta, Canada found their feces contained as much as 30% soil in some samples (Skipworth 1974).
9%) of the women reported geophagy, which included consumption of coal, clay, chalk, brick, and lime.
Women who eat dirt, an exploration of the role of geophagy in the diet of omnivore.
Eating soil, or its component parts, is known as geophagy.
Regarding source of infection, orangutans engage in geophagy (14), a behavior that this animal frequently practiced, suggesting that the infectious agent could have been obtained from contaminated soil.