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Hunter-gatherer

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  • A hunter-gatherer is a member of a group of people who survive by hunting animals and foraging. The term, which originated in anthropological writings of the early 1960s, has a hyphen, not a virgule or a comma. The plural is hunter-gatherers.

    It works as a phrasal adjective (e.g., a hunter-gatherer society), but it’s awkward as a verb. Instead of constructions like (1) “they hunted-gathered” and (2) “they transitioned from hunting-gathering to agriculture,” go with (1) “they hunted and gathered” and (2) “they transitioned from hunting and gathering to agriculture.”

    Examples

    Noun/phrasal adjective

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    Dunbar has found 150 to be the sweet spot for hunter-gatherer societies all over the world. [NPR]

    [Y]ou can swell with all the pride of a hunter-gatherer who has brought home a fresh kill for her young. [Telegraph]

    More than 1,000 Penan hunter-gatherers will be taken from their rainforest home and dumped in a vast oil palm plantation. [Survival International]

    Other constructions

    Jack Black has hunted and gathered in Sodom, donned the cape of a Mexican wrestler and been tied down by a thousand Lilliputians. [Los Angeles Times]

    There’s just something about hunting and gathering in the great coastal outdoors – in that dreamy ocean air. [Oregon Coast Beach Connection]

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