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poly-

  1. a combining form with the meanings “much, many” and, in chemistry, “polymeric,” used in the formation of compound words: polyandrous; polyculture; polyethylene.
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Origin of poly-

< Greek, combining form representing polýs; akin to Old English fela many. See plus
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for poly-

poly-

combining form
  1. more than one; many or muchpolyhedron
  2. having an excessive or abnormal number or amountpolycythaemia
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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

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).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

poly- in Medicine

poly-

pref.
  1. More than one; many; much:polyatomic.
  2. More than usual; excessive; abnormal:polydipsia.
  3. Polymer; polymeric:polyethylene.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

poly- in Science

poly-

  1. 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).
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.