Learn English – Antonym of “phobia”


If a phobia is to have an irrational fear of something, what is the word for having an irrational affinity for something?

For example a numerologist may fear the number 13, but be attracted to (or even have a love for) the number 8. (Some would say this is irrational.)

Best Answer

As @FumbleFingers points out, the -phil- suffixes are the closest opposites you'll find:

Suffixes with the common part -phil- (-phile, -philia, -philic) are used to specify some kind of attraction or affinity to something, in particular the love or obsession with something. They are antonymic to suffixes -phob-.

However, in many cases, we tend to think of passions as a positive thing, so I'm not sure these are the antonyms you're looking for. For example, if I describe myself as a technophile, you might think that I am forward-thinking (and it would be the technophobe who might be condemned); if I'm an oenophile, I'm merely sophisticated; if I'm a bibliophile, just educated.

As an alternative, you might consider the -mania suffix, which "denotes an obsession with something". This would more closely fit the meaning you're looking for of an irrational attraction.

For example, bibliophilia is sometimes contrasted with bibliomania, where the former is "the usual love of books" but the latter is

a symptom of obsessive–compulsive disorder which involves the collecting or even hoarding of books to the point where social relations or health are damaged.