Printable Version
Pronunciation: ê-lur-ê-fail Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: A cat-lover, a fancier of cats.

Notes: Two little ailurophilesIt is amazing that in a land of so many ailurophiles, today's Good Word is used so rarely. Cat-lover and cat-fancier are ambiguous and hence misleading. Today's word is precise and specific. If you don't like cats or are afraid of them, you are an ailurophobe. The adjective is ailurophilic, and the love of cats is ailurophilia.

In Play: This Good Word refers specifically to cat cats, not loose or spiteful women, or cool jazz musicians. That doesn't mean we cannot use it playfully: "Well, I find her a bit catty and I'm not an ailurophile." Of course, dogs tend to be ailurophiles in the strictest sense (yum-yum!). However, if your dog runs away from cats, it suffers from ailurophobia.

Word History: Today's Good Word first appeared in print around 1927. This means that a recent English-speaker connected Greek ailur-os "house cat" and phil-os "friendly, fond of" with an [o] and slipped it into English. Not much is known of the origin of ailuros, but the compounding element phil- "love" was used widely by the Greeks, providing us a gold mine to borrow from. So, we have dendrophiles, the polite form for "tree-hugger", cheese-loving turophiles, wine-loving oenophiles, and many, many others. Of course, here in Pennsylvania we have Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love.

Dr. Goodword,

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