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How can I express "food for thought" in a word? Does such a word exist?

Example usage:

The world will only know peace when our love for power is exceeded by our power to love. That's __ (something to think about).

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You can get the idea across with 'deep' or 'profound'. – Edwin Ashworth Aug 14 '14 at 14:37
I was looking for something more like something to think about, rather than an adjective, but thanks for the suggestion. – Huey Aug 14 '14 at 14:39
As you can see from the answers so far, there is no single word that expresses the same thing (none that I'm aware of, anyway). Suggestion: do not use a single word if you really care about expressing this meaning. But if you feel you must, then go with an invented but understandable word, such as brainfood as a substitute for intellectual nourishment and food for thought. – Drew Aug 14 '14 at 15:22
up vote 5 down vote accepted

There is an uncommon word thoughtworthy: (used as thought-worthy also)

Worthy of thought or of being thought; considerable.


Though, considerable is a more common word with a close meaning but does not seem like a good fit for your example.

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As a native American English speaker, the first word that came to mind for me was "thought-provoking." Macmillan dictionary defines thought-provoking as follows:

Thought-provoking - adjective - interesting in a way that makes you think of new ideas or that changes your attitude to something

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I don't know if a single word exists meaning "food for thought" or "worthy of consideration"; perhaps the closest modern English has is:



Or, with a slightly different hue:


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Those do not at all have the same meaning as food for thought, IMO. Something worthy of noting or remember is not necessarily something that you have pondered or will ponder. – Drew Aug 14 '14 at 15:30
Yeah, I agree. As I said, it's the closest I could come up with. – Dan Bron Aug 14 '14 at 15:31
I do not know of a single word that means food for thought. We shall see if anyone comes up with one. So far, no (IMO). – Drew Aug 14 '14 at 15:34


adjective 1. arousing great interest or curiosity

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition http://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/intriguing?showCookiePolicy=true

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This is a good answer. If it were improved with some formatting, and a link to a source, I would upvote. :) – Lumberjack Aug 14 '14 at 19:33
Per your request! – Brillig Aug 14 '14 at 22:04

While EL&U is an English website, ancient Hebrew has just such a word. That word is selah. If such a word existed in English, you wouldn't even need to preface it by the word that's!

Selah is quite commonly used in the Jewish Scripture in the book of Psalms. Despite the obscurity of the word's origin and meaning, it would seem to mean, at least in part:

  • stop, or pause

  • meditate/cogitate/ruminate on what has just been said

  • take the passage's message to heart

Since the Hebrew psalms, an ancient form of poetry based primarily on parallelism, not rhyme, were meant primarily to be sung, we can imagine that as the choir director in the temple led the singers in a psalm, occasionally he would indicate a pause in the music as a way of letting the words which were being sung to "sink in" to those who were listening. In Handel's Messiah, there is such a pause in the final measures of the Hallelujah Chorus.

Nowadays, public speakers, for example, will simply repeat a particularly "meaty" sentence or quotation for emphasis, although in some public gatherings, such as at a memorial service, the speaker will sometimes intone,

"Let us observe a minute of silence in memory of [fill in the blank]"

Is there an equivalent, single English word? I doubt it. There should be, in my opinion. Until someone invents one, here are a few alternatives:

  • Ruminate/cogitate/meditate on that.

  • That's worth pondering/considering.

  • Ponder/consider that.

  • Mull that over.

There is in fact a single word which I am blanking on right now. It is a word which describes the power of a quotation, or memorable words, or a theory to stimulate further thought. The word is similar in meaning to prolific, which means having the power to generate many further thoughts and ramifications of the original quotation, words, or theory. When I think of the word, I'll edit my post accordingly.

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If you put "consider" at the beginning of a sentence, you could use it as a single word. "Consider: anything can fly if you throw it hard enough." – Qaz Aug 14 '14 at 19:20
@Qaz: good point. Sorry I took so long to get back to you! Don – rhetorician Jan 11 '15 at 23:29

As a term to refer to something to think about you may use:

  • Idea or Concept.

According to TheFreeDictionary.com:


  • an idea of something formed by mentally combining all its characteristics or particulars; a construct.
  • a directly conceived or intuited object of thought.
  • a theme or image, esp. as embodied in the design or execution of something.

Consider from the same source

motivation: (the intellectual nourishment that motivates action):

  • something that motivates; inducement.

  • the psychological feature that arouses an organism to action toward a desired goal; the reason for the action; that which gives purpose and direction to behavior;

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Anything is something to think about. That doesn't make everything food for thought. And certainly not concept or motivation. – Drew Aug 14 '14 at 15:31
Any 'food for thought' is a 'concept' but not vice versa. So concept may include the definition. As you pointed out there is no perfect one word fit and we are all trying to give a possible alternative. 'Intellectual nourishment' is the closest definition I think. – Josh61 Aug 14 '14 at 16:23

Stimulus? Stimulation? A stimulant? As TheFreeDictionary.com has it:

stim·u·lus (stmy-ls) n. pl. stim·u·li (-l)

  1. Something causing or regarded as causing a response.
  2. An agent, action, or condition that elicits or accelerates a physiological or psychological activity or response.
  3. Something that incites or rouses to action; an incentive: "Works which were in themselves poor have often proved a stimulus to the imagination" (W.H. Auden).
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Not at all the same meaning as food for thought. – Drew Aug 14 '14 at 15:32
He was looking for something that meant "something to think about" initially, which fit better. – Ronan Aug 14 '14 at 15:36

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