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  1. of, relating to, or offering instruction in a variety of industrial arts, applied sciences, or technical subjects: a polytechnic institute.
  1. a school or other institution in which instruction in technical subjects is given.

Origin of polytechnic

1795–1805; poly- + technic, modeled on French polytechnique
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for polytechnic

Historical Examples

  • The guard-house of the Polytechnic School overflowed with people.

    Sentimental Education, Volume II</p>

    Gustave Flaubert

  • Frederick urged a pupil of the Polytechnic School to interfere.

  • He exhibited a model of his invention at the Polytechnic Institution.

  • Instead of going to the Polytechnic he practised with his dumb-bells in the back bedroom.

    The Combined Maze

    May Sinclair

  • The galleries themselves were packed with members of the Polytechnic and their friends.

    The Combined Maze

    May Sinclair

British Dictionary definitions for polytechnic


  1. British a college offering advanced full- and part-time courses, esp vocational courses, in many fields at and below degree standard
  1. of or relating to technical instruction and training

Word Origin

C19: via French from Greek polutekhnos skilled in many arts. See technic
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

Word Origin and History for polytechnic


1805, "pertaining to instruction in many (technical) subjects," from French École Polytechnique, engineering school founded 1794 (as École des Travaux publics) in Paris; from Greek polytekhnos "skilled in many arts," from polys "many" (see poly-) + tekhne "art" (see techno-). As a noun (short for polytechnic institution) from 1836.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

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