Printable Version
Pronunciation: zee-nê-fo-bee-yê Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, mass (No plural)

Meaning: Fear or hatred of anything or anyone foreign, alien.

Notes: Apparently fear and hatred is a problem in America, judging from the list of phobias. This word is based on the noun xenophobe "someone who fears or hates anyone or anything foreign". The adjective accompanying today's Good Word is xenophobic.

In Play: The fear of immigrants is the sense in which xenophobia is used most commonly these days: "One would think xenophobia was sweeping America, judging from the 2016 elections." However, a recent Gallup poll reveals that Americans are more satisfied with immigration rates now that before the election. Of course, what is "foreign" is in the eye of the beholder: "Preston Starcht is so xenophobic, he won't talk to people from a different county."

Word History: Today's Good Word comes from the wonderful word in Greek, xenos "foreigner, (foreign) guest" + phobos "fear" + -ia a noun suffix. Xenos may also be used as an adjective meaning simply "foreign". The modern Greek tourist industry likes to tout that Greeks speak a language that does not differentiate between "foreigner" and "guest". Phobos originally meant "flight". It is related to phobein "put to flight, frighten"), inherited from PIE root bhegw- "to run". This word is also the source of Lithuanian bėgti "to flee", Russian begat' "to run", and German Bach "a stream, brook". (Let's all now thank Perry Lassiter, a non-xenophobe if not an anti-xenophobe, for submitting today's highly relevant Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

P.S. - Register for the Daily Good Word E-Mail! - You can get our daily Good Word sent directly to you via e-mail in either HTML or Text format. Go to our Registration Page to sign up today!