Compound words beginning 'philo-' ('phil-') or 'miso-' ('mis-')

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'Philo-' - pronounced with a short 'i', filo- IPA: /fɪlɒ/, and becoming 'phil-' before a vowel - and 'miso-' - also pronounced with a short 'i' IPA: /mɪsɒ/, and becoming 'mis-' before a vowel - form the first part of a number of compound words, e.g., philanthropy, philharmonic, philosophy, misology, misogamous, mishellene, misogyny. Both 'philo-' and 'miso-' come from Ancient Greek, 'philo-' from ‚ φ(λος (philos, loving, friendly, a friend), and 'miso-' from μῖσος (misos, hatred).

As the first part of a compound word 'philo-' means 'love of' (when the word is a noun), and 'loving, liking' (when the word is an adjective), and 'miso-' means 'hatred of' (when the word is a noun), and 'hating or disliking' (when the word is an adjective). Incidentally, be careful not to confuse the 'mis-' which is 'miso-' without the 'o' and the prefix 'mis-' meaning 'wrong, bad, or erroneous' (as in 'misapply', 'misconception', 'misspelling', 'misunderstand'). (The 's' in the prefix 'mis-' is always unvoiced, whereas when 'miso-' becomes 'mis-' before a vowel the 's' is sometimes voiced, as in 'misanthropy' (IPA: /mɪ'zænθrəpɪ/.)

In view of their etymologies it is to be expected that pairs of compound words beginning, respectively, with 'philo-' and 'miso-' and completed in the same way will have opposite meanings, and this is usually the case - 'philanthropy', for example, means 'love of mankind' and hence 'the practice of engaging in charitable action, especially, on a large scale', while 'misanthropy' means 'hatred of mankind'; philogyny means 'love of women', while 'misogyny' means 'hatred of women'. However, there are exceptions - philology (i.e., the love of words) is the comparative and historical study of language, whereas misology is a hatred of reasoning, reasoned argument, or discussion. (The explanation is that the Greek word λόγος (logos) may mean either 'word' or 'reason'.)

As a rule what follows 'philo-' or 'miso-' indicates the object of the love or hatred: thus a philhellene is a lover of Greece and Greek culture; 'philomel' - a poetic word for a nightingale - literally means 'song-loving, i.e., liking to sing'; misogamy is a hatred of marriage; and a misandrist is a man-hater. The verb to 'philander', however, does not mean 'to love men' even though the second part of the word comes from the Greek ἀνήρ (aner, genitive ἀνδρος (andros), a man) - to philander is to flirt with women or have casual sexual relationships with them: the man who does this is a philanderer and the activity is philandering.

The English language, like Ancient Greek, lends itself to the formation of new compound words beginning with 'philo-' or 'miso', but what completes the word should also have a Greek etymology - as do all the examples on this page.

There are many compound words whose final part - '-phile', '-philia', '-philiac', '-phil', '-philous', '-philic', or '-phily' - derives from φ(λος (philos) or its relatives, but there are no compound words whose final part derives analogously from μῖσος (misos). See further Compound words ending '-phile', '-phil', '-philism', '-philia', '-philiac', '-philous', '-philic', and '-phily'.

There is also polyphiloprogenitive, a word coined, possibly with humorous intent, by T.S.Eliot in Mr. Eliot's Sunday Morning Service (1919) to mean 'greatly [poly-] loving [-philo-] procreation [-progenitive]'.