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[puh-lig-uh-mee] /pəˈlɪg ə mi/
the practice or condition of having more than one spouse, especially wife, at one time.
Compare bigamy (def 1), monogamy (def 1).
Zoology. the habit or system of mating with more than one individual, either simultaneously or successively.
Origin of polygamy
1585-95; < Greek polygamía. See poly-, -gamy
Can be confused
bigamy, polyandry, polygamy, polygyny. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for polygamy
  • Although monogamy was the norm, marriage variants such as sororal polygamy and polyandry were present.
  • The local population has heard every joke and jab about polygamy that you can think of.
  • The opposite of polygamy is polyandry, when a woman has multiple husbands.
  • The women seemed to be well treated, although polygamy is practised.
  • It was about polygamy among the Mormons in 1870.
  • In another view, he said polygamy is permitted in Tanganyika but he felt one wife is enough for any one man to handle.
  • There are misconeptions of Islamic instructions on polygamy.
  • Fashion here is deeply involved in what might be called designer polygamy.
  • The reason for this is polygamy, an accepted practice in those countries.
  • He was a polygamy defender who blew his fortune on gonzo polygamy-oriented causes but was himself married only once.
British Dictionary definitions for polygamy


the practice of having more than one wife or husband at the same time Compare polyandry, polygyny
  1. the condition of having male, female, and hermaphrodite flowers on the same plant
  2. the condition of having these different types of flower on separate plants of the same species
the practice in male animals of having more than one mate during one breeding season
Derived Forms
polygamist, noun
polygamous, adjective
polygamously, adverb
Word Origin
C16: via French from Greek polugamia from poly- + -gamy
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for polygamy

1590s, from Late Latin polygamia, from Late Greek polygamia "polygamy," from polygamos "often married," from polys "many" + gamos "marriage" (see gamete). Not etymologically restricted to marriage of one man and multiple women (technically polygyny), but often used as if it were. Related: Polygamist.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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polygamy in Culture
polygamy [(puh-lig-uh-mee)]

The practice of having several wives or husbands at the same time. (Compare monogamy.)

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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