bio·​phil·​ia ˌbī-ō-ˈfi-lē-ə How to pronounce biophilia (audio)
: a hypothetical human tendency to interact or be closely associated with other forms of life in nature : a desire or tendency to commune with nature
Biophilia is the term coined by the Harvard naturalist Dr. Edward O. Wilson to describe what he saw as humanity's "innate tendency to focus on life and lifelike processes," and to be drawn toward nature, to feel an affinity for it, a love, a craving.Natalie Angier
Do human beings have within them an innate sense of connection to other forms of life? If so, can this natural feeling, this "biophilia," both enhance our respect for ourselves as human and reinforce our sense of obligation to treat other forms of life with loving care?T. H. Watkins

Did you know?

The term "biophilia" was popularized by psychoanalyst Erich Fromm in the 1960s. In his work, he used the word (from bio-, meaning "life," and -philia, meaning "friendly feeling toward") to describe the biological drive toward self-preservation. In the late 1970s, American biologist Edward O. Wilson extended the word's meaning, seeing it as the perfect word for "the rich, natural pleasure that comes from being surrounded by living organisms." Recently, "biophilia" has been in the news as the title of Icelandic singer Björk's latest project, a multimedia production that (according to the website for the Manchester International Festival) "celebrates how sound works in nature, exploring the infinite expanse of the universe, from planetary systems to atomic structure."

Examples of biophilia in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web These benefits have made biophilia an emerging trend in workplace design, with companies like Apple and Google implementing plant-rich environments and other biophilic features. Aki Soudunsaari, Forbes, 20 Dec. 2022 Ulrich believes the answer lies in what’s known as the biophilia hypothesis. Emily Anthes, Discover Magazine, 18 Aug. 2020 Humans also have an innate instinct to connect with nature, known as biophilia. Erica Sweeney, Good Housekeeping, 29 July 2022 The concept comes from the term biophilia, which refers to the human tendency to interact with other forms of life. Jessica Bennett, Better Homes & Gardens, 13 Jan. 2022 The website calls out the term: biophilia, the innate tendency to seek connections with nature. Lauren Mowery, Forbes, 27 Oct. 2021 The design will include elements of biophilia: a green wall, draping plants and a network of custom planters throughout the property. Nancy Sarnoff, Houston Chronicle, 10 Feb. 2020 Spaces need to have a sense of biophilia, where the natural world is reflected within the classroom. Kate McGregor, ELLE Decor, 23 Oct. 2019 Calabrese said that houseplants are an example of biophilia in action. Anne Nickoloff,, 29 Aug. 2019 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'biophilia.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


New Latin

First Known Use

1979, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of biophilia was in 1979


Dictionary Entries Near biophilia

Cite this Entry

“Biophilia.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Dec. 2023.

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