True meaning of -phile

Which is the correct usage of the -phile suffix: [pedophile, zoophile, and necrophile] or [bibliophile and audiophile]?

Common usage seems rather ambiguous on this topic. Most parents are not pedophiles, and self-proclaimed audiophiles aren’t bragging about late night escapades with their tape deck.

Doesn’t it simply mean, lover of? Philosophy, love of knowledge? Some have become pejorative because of their acquired sexual meaning. Doesn’t negate what it “really” means. Language is fluid.

A pretty good examination of the Greek root word Philia.

And yes, language changes.

i’m a filephile and i have a soft spot for rasps too.

Perhaps a good way of putting it is that it denotes like of/love of/interest in something in an usual form or to an unusual degree?

There’s no single clear definition for it. This is common in word roots borrowed from Latin or Greek. But then, it’s true for prefixes and suffixes in general. It means whatever the person who created the word intended it to mean and whatever people who presently choose to use the word intend it to mean. Here are two lists of some English words that end with -phile:

http://phrontistery.info/love.html

http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20090402215907AA71kBd

It means some sort of liking or loving. “Like” and “love” aren’t particularly clear terms in English as a general rule. If you’re trying to get language to quit being ambiguous, you’re in for a long, hopeless fight.

Kind of like how “-phobe” now variously means “fearer” or “hater”.

And ~vore may mean someone or something that consumes literally (e.g. omnivore) or figuratively (e.g. bibliovore).

Similarly, ~phage.

My favorite new coinage is: locavore: people who try to eat only locally grown foods.

I don’t like that, it’s too much of a reach. A locavore should be someone who eats the locals.

I guess we know how you would answer the old question–
“If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?”

A humanitarian eats Girl Scout Cookies?

All those endings, -phile, -philia, -phobe, -phobia, etc., can be used in words suggested by their meanings in any vague or remote way. Consider “hemophilia”, a genetic disease in which blood does not clot, so a hemophiliac might bleed to death from even a very minor injury. All that bleeding suggests that the person “loves blood”??? or loves to bleed? or something like that. It’s a real stretch to call that a “-philia” but putting together words that way from prefixes and suffixes can sometimes be real stretches.