"act or practice of feeding on horseflesh," 1823, from hippo- "horse" + -phagy "eating" (see -phagous). Ptolemy uses hippophagi of certain nomadic tribes of central Asia. Related: Hippophagous (1828).
Europeans have generally regarded horse-flesh as unfit for food; but hippophagy or horse-eating has always existed among some rude races, and has been advocated by many gastronomers in Europe. In Paris horse-flesh has long been surreptitiously dealt in as a cheap article of diet, and its sale, under strict official supervision, was authorized in 1866. The necessary use of it there during the siege of 1870-1 brought it into more general favor, which has been maintained. It is also eaten to some extent in other countries. [Century Dictionary, 1903]