Quiz: Remember the definition of mal de mer?


[pol-ee-mawrf] /ˈpɒl iˌmɔrf/
Biology. an organism having more than one adult form, as the different castes in social ants.
Crystallography. any of the crystal forms assumed by a substance that exhibits polymorphism.
Anatomy, granulocyte.
1820-30; < Greek polýmorphos; see poly-, -morph
Related forms
polymorphic, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
Cite This Source
Examples from the web for polymorph
  • What's more, she herself was-or thought of herself as-a media polymorph.
British Dictionary definitions for polymorph


a species of animal or plant that exhibits polymorphism
any of the crystalline forms of a chemical compound that exhibits polymorphism
Also called polymorphonuclear leucocyte. any of a group of white blood cells that have lobed nuclei and granular cytoplasm and function as phagocytes; they include neutrophils, basophils, and eosinophils
Word Origin
C19: from Greek polumorphos having many forms
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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for polymorph

"organism of several forms," 1828, from Greek polymorphos "of many forms" (see polymorphous).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
Encyclopedia Article for polymorph

in crystallography, the condition in which a solid chemical compound exists in more than one crystalline form; the forms differ somewhat in physical and, sometimes, chemical properties, although their solutions and vapours are identical. The existence of different crystalline or molecular forms of elements is called allotropy, although it has been suggested that the meaning of allotropy should be restricted to different molecular forms of an element, such as oxygen (O2) and ozone (O3), and that polymorphism be applied to different crystalline forms of the same species, whether a compound or an element. Differences in the crystalline forms of many elements and compounds were discovered during the 1820s by Eilhardt Mitscherlich, a German chemist.

Learn more about polymorph with a free trial on
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for polymorph

Few English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for polymorph

Scrabble Words With Friends