Sportaholics and Sexavores


Just back from travels, so a short post today. There is a nice case of a newly productive suffix in English worth noting: –vore.  In the past there was a limited set that includes the well-known carnivore, herbivore, omnivore.  Recently the term locavore has come into being – people who seek to buy and consume food that is grown and produced locally, not shipped in from afar. The suffix is from the Latin verb vorare (to devour) and is related to modern-day voracious. What meaning does the suffix –vore convey to modern English speakers, perhaps ‘one who consumes’?  Today I read online a reference to infovore — a person who avidly scans and consumes digital information on the Internet and elsewhere. At this point the suffix has jumped the strict ‘consume food’ boundary implied in the preceding examples and extended its domain to encompass a more abstract, metaphoric sense of ‘consume’.  Languages do this sort of thing all the time, but it’s nice to catch a snapshot of the process in motion. Hoe productive will –vore become?  Are speakers now ready to further enrich the newly coined terms to include their related adjective forms — we easily refer to ‘omnivorous animals’, but what about ‘locavorous eaters’? ‘Infovorous readers’? Could the following pairs of terms exist, and if so, do they mean different things?

  • shopaholics/shopavores
  • locaholics/locavores
  • infoholics/infovores
  • alchoholics/alchovores
  • sexaholics/sexavores
  • sportaholics/sportavores

Update: I heard a new instance of the -holic pattern yesterday — ‘a recovering apocaholic’ — refers to one recovering from a tendency to believe the world is headed for doom. Note the extension to include ‘recovery’, parallel to how alcoholics shake their habit.

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