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Words at Play

Strange Love: 10 Words for Passionate People

What do you call someone who really loves cats? Or cheese?


Definition:

one enthusiastic over fire or fireworks

About the Word:

The prefix pyro- has an ancestor in the Greek pyr meaning "fire". Pyro- appears in dozens of terms, ranging from pyrotechnics (fireworks) to pyromania (an irresistible impulse to start fires).

Definition:

lover or connoisseur of wine

About the Word:

If oenophile - from the Greek oinos ("wine") + phile ("lover") - sounds too precious, alternatives include "wine wonk."

By the way, sommelier - the title of the wine steward at a restaurant - has humble origins. It comes from the Old French for "pack animal driver."

Definition:

a lover of cheese; a cheese fancier

About the Word:

This term - probably coined by an American radio host in 1938 - is far less commonly used than oenophile. Still, someone who passionately enjoys wine and cheese might be described as an oenophile turophile.

Definition:

one attracted to foreign things (as manners, styles, or food)

About the Word:

The Greek xenos means a stranger or guest; xenophobia ("fear of strangers") is more familiar than xenophilia.

However, xenophile makes an appearance in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. Xenophilius Lovegood was interested in ideas far outside the mainstream wizarding world.

Definition:

one fond of or informed about what is ancient

About the Word:

Both palaios- and archaios- meant "ancient" in Greek, but while paleontologists study fossils, archaeologists study human artifacts. Of course, both paleontologists and archaeologists - and any lovers of antiquity - can be palaeophiles.

Definition:

one who approves or favors the German people and their institutions and customs

About the Word:

Not surprisingly, other countries have their own admirers too: Anglophiles (England), Francophiles (France), Italophiles (Italy), Russophiles (Russia), Japanophiles (Japan), and Sinophiles (China).

Definition:

cat fancier; lover of cats

About the Word:

Ancient Egyptians loved cats and honored them by depicting gods and goddesses in feline form (for example, the goddess Bastet); still, the prefix ailur- (meaning "cat") crept into English as a gift from the Greeks.

Definition:

one fond of star lore; an amateur astronomer

About the Word:

Astr, Latin for "star," turns up in the word disaster, which originally referred to "an unfavorable aspect of a star or planet."

Definition:

collector or connoisseur of phonograph records

About the Word:

Record lovers have long been coining terms for their passion. Gramophile comes from the Gramophone (phonograph) trademarked in the late 19th century.

Discophile dates to 1940. The similar audiophile (enthusiast of high-fidelity sound reproduction) appeared in 1951.

Cinephile

Definition:

devotee of motion pictures; cineast

About the Word:

Like bibliophile ("book lover"), cinephile was borrowed directly from French into English.

What's the difference between a cinephile and a "movie lover"? The distinction is vague, but cinephile - with its classical tone - suggests a scholarly interest.




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