1. Material, especially carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, that an organism uses for energy, growth, and maintaining the processes of life. Plants, algae, and some bacteria make their own food through photosynthesis, while animals and most other organisms obtain food by consuming other organisms or organic matter.
2. A specified kind of nourishment: breakfast food; plant food.
3. Nourishment eaten in solid form: food and drink.
4. Something that nourishes or sustains in a way suggestive of physical nourishment: food for thought.
[Middle English fode, from Old English fōda; see pā- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.