Herbivorous vs herbaceous

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Herbivorous and herbaceous are both adjectives and are somewhat similar in spelling and pronunciation but have very different meanings. We will examine the definitions of herbivorous and herbaceous, where these words came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

Herbivorous is an adjective that describes an animal that feeds on plants. Herbivorous animals such as deer and horses occupy an important part of the ecosystem, grazing on grass and other plants while spreading seeds and fertilizer through their manure deposits, as well as serving as food for predators. An herbivore can digest the energy in the carbohydrates that plants manufacture through photosynthesis. The word herbivorous is patterned on the words carnivorous, which describes a meat eater, and omnivorous, which describes an animal that will eat both plants and meat. All of these words first appeared in the mid-1600s. The word herbivorous is derived from the Latin word herba, meaning plant, and vorare, meaning to devour. Related words are herbivore, herbivorously, herbivorousness.

Herbaceous is an adjective that describes plants that have stems that are green rather than woody, or something pertaining to plants that have stems that are green rather than woody, such as a an herbaceous border or an herbaceous wreath. The word herbaceous is derived from the Latin word herba, meaning plant, and the suffix -aceous, which is used to create an adjective denoting similarity to something. Related words are herbaceously and herbaceousness.


Triceratops dinosaurs were herbivorous and had two big horns over their eyes and a smaller nose horn, as well as a parrot-like beak and a large frill that could reach nearly 1 meter (3 feet) across. (The Daily Mail)

Now is the time to enter your new, never-before-sold herbaceous perennial variety in the All-America Selections-Perennial Plant Association Herbaceous Perennial Trial. (The Garden Center Magazine)