-phore Also -phor, -phora, -phoresis, and -phorous.
An agent, bearer, or producer of a specified thing.
[Modern Latin -phorus, from Greek -phoros, -phoron, bearing, bearer, from pherein, to bear.]
A common example is semaphore (Greek sēma, sign), a system of sending messages. Others include chromophore, an atom or group whose presence is responsible for the colour of a compound; siderophore (Greek sidēros, iron), a molecule which binds and transports iron in micro-organisms; and spermatophore, a protein capsule containing a mass of spermatozoa, transferred during mating.
A few terms contain the related -phor: iodophor, any of a group of disinfectants containing iodine in combination with a surfactant; metaphor (Greek metapherein, to transfer), a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable; phosphor (Greek phōs, light), a synthetic fluorescent or phosphorescent substance.
Terms ending in -phora are frequently systematic names for organisms that bear some characteristic, such as Mastigophora (Greek mastix, mastig-, whip), a group of single-celled animals that includes the protozoal flagellates, and Pteridophora (Greek pteris, pterid-, fern), a genus of birds of paradise. Other examples of the ending have figurative senses derived from the Greek root pherein, including anaphora (Greek, literally ‘repetition’, from ana-, back), the use of a word referring back to one used earlier, to avoid repetition, and exophora (Greek exō, outside), reference in a text or utterance to something external to it.
A fourth noun ending, -phoresis, appears in a variety of abstract terms, such as diaphoresis (Greek, from diaphorein, carry off, sweat out, from dia, through), sweating to an unusual degree; electrophoresis, the movement of charged particles in a fluid or gel under the influence of an electric field; and iontophoresis, a technique of introducing ionic medicinal compounds into the body through the skin by applying a local electric current.
Adjectives are formed in -phoric (semaphoric, exophoric, metaphoric), or in -phorous (phosphorous, see the next entry; odontophorous, of a cartilaginous projection in the mouth of a mollusc).