6

Odd question, but I wonder if there is a word for someone who eats earthworms. I tried hard to find if there is such a word, and I found none. Thank you.

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    Give us the context, there must be a reason why you are asking. And also one last thing, why do you think there could be a single word for an action that is considerably rare among humans? – Mari-Lou A Nov 22 '15 at 4:48
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    @Mari-LouA Thank you for your comment. There isn't a context really except for Youtube video of a competition as who can eat the most worms in one minute (I would share the link, but many people would be very uncomfortable with it). So I was curious if "worm-eaters" may have have a specific name, something like "cannibalistic", which is a word also describing an activity considerably rare among humans. – asef Nov 22 '15 at 5:16
  • On contrary, the fact that there exists a term for the eating of human flesh is proof that it is not such a rare event. We have all heard of tribes, lost travelers, airplane survivors, and psychopaths who, for one reason or the other, were forced or felt compelled to eat human flesh. – Mari-Lou A Nov 22 '15 at 5:23
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    Fair play, but of course I am gonna come back and tell you that describing worm-eating as an "action . . . considerably rare among humans" is an assertion short of proof :) – asef Nov 22 '15 at 5:32
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    6. They can be processed into human food. They have been used as such by natives of Africa, South America, Japan, China, Papua New Guinea and New Zealand. In 1999, Guerrero and Martin reported that meatball dishes prepared from pure earthworm and 50% EWM and 50% pork were equally as palatable as pure pork (Guerrero n.d.). In the Philippines, a food supplement named Eugeton was developed from cultured African night crawler with the same anticoagulant properties as in imported products (Guerrero and Guerrero 2006).cropsreview.com/earthworms.html – Hugh Nov 22 '15 at 6:58
14

Scolecophagous is someone who eats worms.

It is listed in The Grandiloquent Dictionary (by Christopher Bird) along with scoleciphobia which means the fear of worms.

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It is from Ancient Greek σκώληξ worm (scolex) + the suffix -ϕάγος: -phagous.

  • There's a homeric form scolios wh. wd have given a slightly simpler set of words. The early Christopher Bird got there first. Did he offer an alternative, with Latin root:- Lumbricovore? – Hugh Nov 22 '15 at 6:25
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    I'm skeptical: shouldn't scolecophagous be an adjective? It seems like the noun should be scolecophagus or scolecophage or something. – ruakh Feb 23 '18 at 8:05
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    The word may exist, but nobody will understand it. – WendyG Feb 23 '18 at 12:48
13

A vermivore is an animal that eats worms. It may also be the best word to describe a person that eats worms, as I very much doubt there is a different word for this.

7

No need to go all Greek and Latin for this answer:

worm-eater, n.
1. A bird or other creature that feeds on worms; spec. the Worm-eating Warbler (see below).
1760 G. Edwards Gleanings Nat. Hist. II. 200 The Worm-eater [of Pennsylvania].
1831 W. Swainson & J. Richardson Fauna Boreali-Americana II. 221 Sylvicola (Vermivora) peregrina... Tennessee Worm-eater.
1878 J. Buller Forty Years N.Z. i. v. 39 A desperate gang headed by a chief called ‘Kaitoke’ (worm-eater).

["ˈworm-ˌeater, n.". OED Online. September 2015. Oxford University Press. http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/230289?rskey=x4W6tW&result=1&isAdvanced=true (accessed November 22, 2015). Emphasis mine.]

See especially the 1878 quote. In the OED, this word is not designated as rare, much less obsolete. It applies to human beings as well as other 'creatures' ('creatures' is a suspect term to begin with, but that's another story). Syllogistically,

Human beings are creatures.
Creatures that eat worms are 'worm-eaters' (see definition).
Human beings eat worms.
Therefore, human beings are 'worm-eaters'.

In case there's any remaining doubt, a 2015 article titled "Worms As a Food Source for Humans" (Livestrong) should dispel it. Telling excerpts include these:

... humans in almost 90 countries eat insects and worms. ... renowned chef David George Gordon ... features worm specialties he calls Superworm Tempura with Plum Dipping Sauce, Fried Green Tomato Hornworm and Alpha-Bait Soup in his book "The Eat-A-Bug Cookbook."
....
In some parts of Asia, Africa and Latin America, people regularly eat worms. Some restaurants in the United States have jumped on the bandwagon to offer something different to patrons who consider themselves “foodies” or who want to claim bragging rights to their friends.
....
The Royal Society, an academy of the world’s most prominent scientists, published a study on the nutrient content of earthworms in its namesake journal “The Royal Society” in January 2003. Researchers studied the eating habits of the Yekuana people of Venezuela who traditionally eat two kinds of earthworms – one type that lives in muddy streams and another that lives on the forest floor. The Yekuana people eat the worms fresh after heating them in water, or they smoke the worms over a fire.

Worms are much prized as a food source in some areas. The second paragraph of a 2006 article titled "Cultured earthworms as human food" (The Phillipine Star) makes this point clear:

Earthworms are terrestrial invertebrates that have been used as human food for ages. They are in fact considered a delicacy by the natives of Africa, South America, Japan, China, Papua New Guinea, and New Zealand.

2

Lumbricophagy, a word derived from Latin lumbricus “earthworm” + ‑phagy from Greek ‑ϕαγία “eating”, is certainly a term used zoologically. This may be uncommon behaviour in humans, but it is, of course, a common thing for animals to do.

Other primates too are known to eat earthworms. Possibly my favourite example occurs in Amazon-flooded forests where giant earthworms migrate out of the soil when floodwaters rise and climb tree trunks to spend time in rotting leaf clusters trapped in branches and bromeliads. There they are sought out by several species of monkeys, including capuchins and uakaris.

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