Is there really no word / phobia for a 'fear of becoming fat'?

All I can find are things like 'Pocrescophobia' and 'Obesophobia', which don't even show up in any dictionaries from what I can tell.

Do phobias normally not show up in dictionaries?

  • 1
    Just don't eat—problem solved (but seriously though, I'd like to know too, so +1). Jul 14, 2015 at 19:31
  • Functionally, of course, "anorexia" pretty much fills the same niche. But if you wanted to get formal about it, you'd probably use the Greek word for "obesity", followed by "-phobia". Google Translate says this is "παχυσαρκία", (pakhisarkia?) though I don't speak Greek and I don't know what you'd need to do to make it fit together right. Jul 14, 2015 at 19:36
  • We have to wonder if the actual fear is of "becoming fat" or some other fear.
    – Sun
    Jul 14, 2015 at 19:41
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    It's only been in the last decade or so that globally speaking, obesity has become a bigger cause of premature death than malnutrition. I seriously doubt ancient Greeks had a word for "fear of becoming fat" - most of them (and their contemporaries and antecedents) would have seen obesity as a good thing. Publicly visible evidence of wealth, strength, good living, etc. Jul 14, 2015 at 20:04
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    Not all phobias appear in dictionaries or they don't always appear in credible dictionaries. Usually most common ones are in dictionaries but OED might include more phobias than other credible dictionaries. Sometimes, they can be easily made-up also.
    – ermanen
    Jul 14, 2015 at 20:44

3 Answers 3


I am a health care professional and I would like to answer your query.

Pocrescophobia or Pocresophobia is the morbid and irrational fear of gaining weight. This is also comparable to Obesophobia, the fear of becoming fat or being obese.

Yes, list of phobias normally not show up in normal dictionaries because most phobias are medical jargons. It means that it can only be seen in medical dictionaries like Taber's Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary, especially those phobia cases that are rare and uncommon. However, some list of phobias can be seen in Merriam-Webster like acrophobia, hydrophobia, and claustrophobia because the incidence of individuals with this specific type of phobia are high. Thus, including them in normally used dictionaries.

But I tell you that, you cannot find a full list of phobias in medical dictionaries. Maybe you can view some lists of phobias in the Internet but I can guarantee that those sites aren't reliable and not even recognized by the medical community. Even in medical books, there are no full list of phobias. Acrophobia, hydrophobia, pyrophobia, obesophobia, and other phobias fall in the category of Specific Phobia in most medical books.

You can visit this sites for more information about specific phobia:

  1. http://www.psychiatry.org
  2. http://www.adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/specific-phobias
  3. http://www.mentalhealth.com/home/dx/specificphobia.html
  4. http://psychcentral.com/disorders/specific-phobia-symptoms/

or download these medical books in pdf in the internet:

  1. Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing: Concepts of Care in Evidence Based Practice 8th edition
  2. Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing 5th edition
  • 2
    Many specific phobia terms are medical jargon, but I wouldn’t say phobias as such are. Some phobias are specifically not medical terms and are, as you say, not recognised by the medical community. Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia, for example, is probably more commonly known in the general population than many well-established medical-jargon terms; but I doubt many in the medical field would consider it an actual medical term. Jul 15, 2015 at 13:53
  • @JanusBahsJacquet Ah yes. That's right. Thanks for your input. Point taken.
    – Jaeger Jay
    Jul 15, 2015 at 13:56
  • What is the etymology of pocres(c)ophobia? do you have a more trustworthy source?
    – Toothrot
    Apr 29, 2019 at 9:15

Anorexia nervosa, often referred to simply as anorexia, is an eating disorder characterized by a low weight, fear of gaining weight, a strong desire to be thin, and food restriction.

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    Isn't this going too far? I could casually be afraid of becoming obese without having an eating disorder.
    – Rj Geraci
    Jul 14, 2015 at 19:40
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    I suppose anorexia is more of the expression of the fear rather than the fear itself.
    – kataob
    Jul 14, 2015 at 19:50
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    @KristinaLopez But even a severe phobia of obesity does not equal (or even correlate with) anorexia, which rarely has very much to do with actual obesity as such at all. A phobia of getting fat could just as well manifest in you living like a health freak and working out like crazy, but eating appropriate amounts of food. Jul 14, 2015 at 22:06
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    @JanusBahsJacquet, I wasn't commenting on the answer, just that RJ's choice of words "casually...afraid" falls way short of phobia. I do agree, for the record, that phobia falls short of more serious psychological disorder such as anorexia. Jul 14, 2015 at 22:20
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    @KristinaLopez Ah, apologies—I missed the word casually in RJ’s comment and thought you'd added that in. Jul 14, 2015 at 22:24

The medical term for treatment of the obese is bariatrics, so I suppose that the eventual phobia suffix could be something like baryphobia.

However I think this would more likely mean "fear of the obese" rather than "fear of becoming obese".

Since the obese are not analogous to zombies, the two meanings are not interchangeable.

Edit: A wild scholar appeared and sagely suggested a correction.

  • 3
    Good thought, but you need to get rid of the -iatr- part of that, which denotes ἰατρός, physician or healer. I would accordingly suggest baryphobia: for without the -i- of -iatr- to reckon with, βαρύς (heavy) can supply its own native vowel. Usage would then have to determine whether it came to mean fear of the obese, fear of becoming obese oneself, or fear of obesity in general. Jul 14, 2015 at 21:35

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