[ puh-lig-uh-mee ]
See synonyms for polygamy on Thesaurus.com
  1. the practice or condition of having more than one spouse, especially wife, at one time.: Compare bigamy (def. 1), monogamy (def. 1).

  2. Zoology. the habit or system of mating with more than one individual, either simultaneously or successively.

Compare Meanings

Click for a side-by-side comparison of meanings. Use the word comparison feature to learn the differences between similar and commonly confused words.

Origin of polygamy

From the Greek word polygamía, dating back to 1585–95. See poly-, -gamy

Words that may be confused with polygamy

Words Nearby polygamy

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use polygamy in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for polygamy


/ (pəˈlɪɡəmɪ) /

  1. the practice of having more than one wife or husband at the same time: Compare polyandry, polygyny

    • the condition of having male, female, and hermaphrodite flowers on the same plant

    • the condition of having these different types of flower on separate plants of the same species

  1. the practice in male animals of having more than one mate during one breeding season

Origin of polygamy

C16: via French from Greek polugamia from poly- + -gamy

Derived forms of polygamy

  • polygamist, noun
  • polygamous, adjective
  • polygamously, adverb

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

Cultural definitions for polygamy


[ (puh-lig-uh-mee) ]

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

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