syn·​an·​thrope ˈsi-nan-ˌthrōp How to pronounce synanthrope (audio)
plural synanthropes
: an undomesticated organism and especially an animal (such as a mouse, pigeon, or raccoon) that lives in close association with people and benefits from their surroundings and activities
Such birds were synanthropes … that is, born wild but inherently predisposed toward associating themselves with humans.David Quammen, Wild Thoughts from Wild Places, 1998
synanthropic adjective
This and other experiments have established a circumstantial case for the role of the synanthropic fly as a disease vector. James C. Riley, American Historical Review, October 1986
synanthropy noun
The best explanation of this major development in crow synanthropy is that cities provide protection from being shot, safety from hawks and owls—their major predators—and greater ambient warmth. Daniel W. Gade, Geographical Review, 1 Apr. 2010

Word History


noun derivative of earlier synanthrope, adjective, "(of plants) adapted to places lived in or frequented by humans," borrowed from French, coinage (after misanthrope misanthrope, philanthrope philanthrope, etc.) on the basis of Greek synanthrōpeúesthai, synanthrōpízein "to live with humans," verbal derivative from syn- syn- + ánthrōpos "human being"

Note: Term introduced by the German botanist Theodor von Heldreich (1822-1902) in "L'Attique au point de vue des caractères de sa végétation," Congrès internationale de botanique et d'horticulture, tenu à Paris du 16 au 24 août 1878 (No. 18 of Comptes rendus sténographiques publiés sous les auspices du Comité Central des Congrès et Conférences), Paris, 1880, p. 116.

First Known Use

1948, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of synanthrope was in 1948

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Cite this Entry

“Synanthrope.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Dec. 2023.

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