Is there a word for an animal that eats only one type of food? The giant panda, for example, only eats bamboo; koalas only eat eucalyptus leaves. "Monovore" would be ideal, but I don't believe that word exists (at least, it's not in the OED). So an obvious sample sentence would be: "The giant panda is a/an ***** as it only eats bamboo".

  • Lotsofwords.com provides pretty comprehensive-looking lists for words ending -wxyz say. I've had fun looking through the words (and, as they admit, candidate words) ending in -vore on the relevant 'page', but have found no term with the meaning you desire. ... 'Univore' has been used, albeit 'metaphorically' [Glosbe.com // ScienceDirect]. Feb 16, 2020 at 15:16
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    An animal that eats just one kind of food is pre-extinct...
    – RonJohn
    Feb 17, 2020 at 15:38
  • They are all pre-exstinct, but some co-evolve
    – Phil Sweet
    Feb 17, 2020 at 17:12
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    It usually works better if you don't try to mix Latin with Greek, and stick to one of them (either one). Feb 17, 2020 at 21:27
  • @RonJohn an egg contains everything necessary to grow a hatchling. Do egg-eating snakes eat anything except eggs? The same comment may apply to seeds, but AFAIK all birds need to feed their chicks on insects even if they are seed-eating herbivores as adults. Non-birds?
    – nigel222
    Feb 18, 2020 at 11:57

2 Answers 2



: feeding on or utilizing a single kind of food especially : feeding on a single kind of plant or animal

From Merrim Webster Online :monophagous

The noun is monophage.

  • While the answer is correct for the question as it is expressed in the title, the question is wrong/misleading in its detail. The koala does not, from a scientific perspective, “eat one type of food”. It eats a range of quite different eucalypts species (including monkeygum, various stringybarks, woollybut, red iron bark and silver-top ash), and must do so to stay healthy. There is no denying it is a very fussy specialised eater, but most scientists would call it oligophagous (merriam-webster.com/dictionary/oligophagous). Feb 18, 2020 at 11:49
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    The panda might also be called an oligophage in some circumstances - where two bamboo species are available it will eat both to secure a wider range of nutrients. The word monophagous is most often applied to invertebrates - for example butterfly species that that will only lay their eggs on, and eat, one particular plant species. Feb 18, 2020 at 11:57
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    @OrbitalAussie Yes, and I happen to be an amateur entomologist a long way from Oz. I think your comment would best be a separate answer, or I can edit my answer later when I get home.
    – Phil Sweet
    Feb 18, 2020 at 12:00
  • Great. You are welcome to just incorporate my comments into your answer. It is after all fundamentally correct. By the way, this is a reference for the diet of koalas in a particular location (they eat different eucalypts in different locations around the country): aph.gov.au/… Feb 18, 2020 at 12:11

I prefer the less common but more poetic monovore.

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    You should include a dictionary source & definition for your chosen word. Feb 18, 2020 at 6:56
  • This was already mentioned in the OP as a potentially good word that however might not exist.
    – Ruslan
    Feb 18, 2020 at 8:44
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    Better to use the existing monophage which doesn't mix Latin and Greek the way 'monovore' would. Feb 18, 2020 at 8:56
  • @killingtime If we all abided by that constraint, we'd never get any new words. Feb 18, 2020 at 19:55

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