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[pol-ee] /ˈpɒl i/
noun, plural polies.
Informal. polyester (def 2):
a blend of poly and cotton.
a fabric or garment made of polyester.
made of or containing polyester:
a poly swimsuit.
Origin of poly1
by shortening


[pol-ee] /ˈpɒl i/
adjective, Informal.
noting or relating to polyamory; polyamorous:
They’re in a poly relationship.
identifying as polyamorous:
They’re not monogamous, they’re poly.
First recorded in 1990-95; shortening of polyamorous


a combining form with the meanings “much, many” and, in chemistry, “polymeric,” used in the formation of compound words:
polyandrous; polyculture; polyethylene.
< Greek, combining form representing polýs; akin to Old English fela many. See plus

poly. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for poly
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • I think of a polyanthus, and I say, 'Who will first touch a poly?'

  • It had been as sound as a bell when he entered for the poly.

    The Combined Maze May Sinclair
  • All he wanted, Booty had then declared, was a turn or two at the poly.

    The Combined Maze May Sinclair
  • For some shy or unfathomable reason of his own he refused to become a poly.

    The Combined Maze May Sinclair
  • And yearly the regiment of girls who could "do things" at the poly.

    The Combined Maze May Sinclair
British Dictionary definitions for poly


noun (pl) polys
(informal) short for polytechnic
(informal) short for polyester
(informal) short for polythene


combining form
more than one; many or much: polyhedron
having an excessive or abnormal number or amount: polycythaemia
Word Origin
from Greek polus much, many; related to Old English fela many
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 poly


word-forming element meaning "many, much, multi-, one or more," from Greek poly-, combining form of polys "much" (plural polloi); cognate with Latin plus, from PIE root *pele- (1) "to fill," with derivatives referring to multitudinousness or abundance (cf. Sanskrit purvi "much," prayah "mostly;" Avestan perena-, Old Persian paru "much;" Greek plethos "people, multitude, great number," polys "much, plenty," ploutos "wealth;" Lithuanian pilus "full, abundant;" Old Church Slavonic plunu; Gothic filu "much," Old Norse fjöl-, Old English fela, feola "much, many;" Old English folgian; Old Irish lan, Welsh llawn "full;" Old Irish il, Welsh elu "much"); probably related to root *pele- (2) "to spread."

Properly used in compounds only with words of Greek origin. In chemical names, usually indicating a compound with a large number of atoms or molecules of the same kind (cf. polymer).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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poly in Medicine

poly- pref.

  1. More than one; many; much: polyatomic.

  2. More than usual; excessive; abnormal: polydipsia.

  3. Polymer; polymeric: polyethylene.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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poly in Science
A prefix meaning "many," as in polygon, a figure having many sides. In chemistry, it is used to form the names of polymers by being attached to the name of the base unit of which the polymer is made, as in polysaccharide, a polymer made of repeating simple sugars (monosaccharides).
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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