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if the adjective of the noun BACTERIUM is 'bacterial' and that of VIRUS is 'viral', what is the adjective for (BACTERIO)PHAGE? Is 'phagial' accepted?

Thank you

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    $\begingroup$ Bacteriophages are viruses so what's wrong with viral? $\endgroup$ – Cell Aug 25 '20 at 14:12
  • $\begingroup$ @Cell "Bacteriophages"!? Not to be a grammar-nazi, but bacteriophage is an unchanging irregular noun. The plural of bacteriophage is bacteriophage. The plural of phage is phage. $\endgroup$ – MikeyC Aug 25 '20 at 15:45
  • $\begingroup$ @MikeyC If it's good enough to be acceptable on Nature's educational website, it's good enough for me: nature.com/scitable/definition/bacteriophage-phage-293/… Not to mention it is also found in published work: ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3109452 $\endgroup$ – Cell Aug 25 '20 at 16:51
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    $\begingroup$ Have you done a Google search for "phagial"? You might try and see what you find. (And there is no need to use capitals. On the internet that is considered to be shouting.) $\endgroup$ – David Aug 25 '20 at 17:09
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    $\begingroup$ The context would be: "there were 32 phagous species in our samples". (as opposed to 50 bacterial and 12 viral species). $\endgroup$ – Gigiux Aug 26 '20 at 11:56
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It is bacteriophagous as given in wiktionary.

From bacterio- (“bacteria”) +‎ -phagous (“eating”).

Reference

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  • $\begingroup$ This is what I found by googling it and hence shared with the reference. Why downvote then? $\endgroup$ – Ojasvi Aug 25 '20 at 17:31
  • $\begingroup$ I didn't downvote, but this would seem to me to be an adjective modifying "virus" (e.g. a phage is a "bacteriophagous virus") rather than an adjective modifying something associated with a phage "phagial(?) population growth", "phagial(?) biochemistry", etc.) $\endgroup$ – Ben Bolker Aug 25 '20 at 17:51
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    $\begingroup$ I downvoted this answer for 2 reasons: (1) a search for "bacteriophagous" on PubMed yields very few results (only 25), and (2) from the context of those results, "bacteriophagous" means a "bacteria-eating" or "bacteria-engulfing"; not bacteriophage-like. $\endgroup$ – Cell Aug 26 '20 at 16:32
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In the literature, it's most common to see hyphenated compound adjectives, like "phage-mediated," "phage-dependent," or "phage-encoded" where "bacterial" or "viral" might be analogous. For example, "Phage‐mediated selection and the evolution and maintenance of restriction‐modification."

Sometimes "phage" seems to be used as a standalone adjective, like in "Phage antibodies: filamentous phage displaying antibody variable domains." Although I'm not sure that it would be correct to use "bacterial antibodies" or "viral antibodies" in this case, so maybe that one is an anomaly.

I would suggest following one of these trends, unless you want to do a lot of explaining to reviewers.

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  • $\begingroup$ so something like "pagial/phagous species" should become phage-species, right? $\endgroup$ – Gigiux Aug 26 '20 at 8:00
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    $\begingroup$ In that case, you would probably not use the hyphen. There's some discussion of naming conventions in this article on PubMed, and they do use the phrase "phage species." ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5408676. $\endgroup$ – MikeyC Aug 26 '20 at 13:39
  • $\begingroup$ I read the article, but the space is related to naming the phage itself, not the adjective for phage... $\endgroup$ – Gigiux Aug 27 '20 at 20:36
  • $\begingroup$ I only referenced it to give you an example of how "phage species" might be used appropriately. Sorry for the confusion. $\endgroup$ – MikeyC Aug 27 '20 at 22:49
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    $\begingroup$ I asked the author of that paper and she replied: "I have never in my career heard anyone use the terms phagial or phagous." Probably "phage-species" of "phage species" is the more accepted way, 'phage' being (I presume) a modifier more than a real adjective. $\endgroup$ – Gigiux Aug 31 '20 at 7:17

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