AskDefine | Define necrophagy

Dictionary Definition

necrophagy n : feeding on corpses or carrion [syn: necrophagia]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. The eating of dead or decaying animal flesh

Extensive Definition

Necrophagy is the act of feeding on corpses or carrion that were not killed to be eaten by the predator or others of its species. The word is derived from Ancient Greek "nekros" meaning corpse or dead and "phagos" meaning to eat.
Animals who partially or completely feed on dead animals that they have not predated are usually called scavengers, most familiar examples being hyenas and vultures. Also many insects use decayed matter as a protein source, e.g. some bee species or dung beetles.
With regard to carrion from the same species, the behavior is also referred to as anthropophagy, in the case of humans, or cannibalism, in the case of other non-human animals.
In humans, necrophagy is a taboo in most societies. In the Qur'an slanderers are stigmatized as those who eat the flesh of the dead body of the person they slander. The Aghori, a Hindu sect known to live in graveyards, according to a Persian source and nineteenth century British accounts, were necrophagous. There have been many instances in history, especially in war times, where necrophagy was a survival behavior.
necrophagy in German: Nekrophagie
necrophagy in French: Nécrophagie
necrophagy in Polish: Nekrofagia
necrophagy in Portuguese: Necrófago
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