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failure to thrive
A medical term used to describe an infant or young child who has experienced delays in physical growth, for a variety of possible reasons. I'm a bit concerned about little Howie's failure to thrive, so I want you to bring him back the office next week for further examination.
thrive on (something)
1. To flourish or grow luxuriantly by feeding or nourishing on something. The predators introduced to the ecosystem by explorers thrived on the multiple species that had not adapted to their presence. This flower thrives on sunshine, so be sure to have it in direct light as often as you can.
2. To reach one's greatest potential for success when exposed to or involved in something. She has always thrived on intense pressure in her studies, so attending Yale for law school seemed like the natural choice. Despite their willfulness, children actually thrive on rule, structure, and discipline.
thrive (up)on something
to grow vigorously because of something. (Upon is formal and less commonly used than on.) These plants thrive upon wet soil. Children thrive on love.
To flourish by or as if by feeding on something: The bears thrived on a rich harvest of berries.