Based on the existing English words describing the diet type of a species with Latin origins, I am struggling to see a clear pattern...

Herbivore: "Herba" + "-vore(vorare)"?
Carnivore: "Carnivorous" or "Carnis" + "-vore"?
Omnivore: "Omnivorous" or "Omnis" + "-vore"?

The reason I am trying to find a pattern is to make up new compound Latin word using "Cognitio" and "Vorare" that means "Devours Knowledge", describing a creature that feeds on knowledge to survive.

Which case and suffix combination would be most correct and in line with existing examples?

Thanks for your help!


Latin is not all that keen to form compound words. It is far more common with Greek, so you may have more luck looking for a Greek compound for the same concept. Perhaps you should talk about a sophophage rather than a cognitionivore. (If you want to look for good Greek words for this purpose, I recommend taking it to a separate question.)

I have seen a number of Latin compounds, but never from a word ending in -io. The Latin compounding system does not feel very flexible. I suggest looking for a more compound-friendly word to begin with. Depending on your use case, I might go with librivorus, "book-eater". It feels more natural and idiomatic, and can be interpreted broadly enough to mean someone who devours knowledge.

Similarly, you could start with words like ars or notus and use artivorus or notivorus. To get a feeling for what these words mean, you can ask in the comments or check any of the good online Latin dictionaries.

While the word cognitionivorus others suggest may be technically correct — although I would like to see examples of previous use with similar words — I find it somewhat forced and unnatural. In addition to being clumsy for compounding, cognitio might not be the best word for "knowledge", but that depends on your goal and context.

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Devour is from this root too. But it seems to need to use the another root: -phagus, with the meaning of a 'feeding on'. As in the synonym of the vampire: hematophagous. There is parallel synonym - hematovorous - but, as we can see in examples, '-vorous' primary describes what is acting by the actor, but not about reason of this. Maybe there is more close suffix to describe this nuances, but untill the finding such suffix, you can use this compound: cognitioniophagus.

Or fully 'greek' compound: gnosiophagus.

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As Joonas says, forming a compound from a derived noun like cognitio looks extremely odd. I'd go so far as to say that cognitionivore and the like are simply ill-formed in terms of Latin compounding rules (in addition to being unwieldy and difficult to pronounce).

You might consider the simple cognivore. Granted, this is also technically not a correct Latin compound, because there isn't a word like cognus. But lots of existing modern compounds are technically incorrect in Classical Latin terms, and cognivore at least has the virtues of being transparent in meaning and easily pronounced.

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  • After my last answer I wanted to add such version too, with explaining this that clipping the root as cogni- is the way what the New Latin do. And it sounds more pretty. – TrmIntrs2 Jul 5 at 9:30

Taking cognitio and -vora would make a pretty straightforward compound, cognitionivora.

I'm not sure that cognitio is your best bet for knowledge though. It means more like "the act of knowing" or "the act of being familia with". Perhaps scientia would be a better basis for a compound: scientivora, or maybe better scientiavora. (*Scientivora could be interpreted as "eater of the one who knows".)

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