See more synonyms for polygyny on Thesaurus.com
  1. the practice or condition of having more than one wife at one time.
  2. (among male animals) the habit or system of having two or more mates, either simultaneously or successively.
  3. (among social insects) the condition of having two or more functioning queens in a colony.
  4. Botany. the state or condition of having many pistils or styles.
Compare monogyny.

Origin of polygyny

1770–80; < Greek polygýn(aios) having many wives (see poly-, gyn-) + -y3
Can be confusedbigamy polyandry polygamy polygyny
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for polygyny

polygyny, bigamy, polyandry

Examples from the Web for polygyny

Historical Examples of polygyny

British Dictionary definitions for polygyny


  1. the practice or condition of being married to more than one wife at the same timeCompare polygamy
  2. the practice in animals of a male mating with more than one female during one breeding season
  3. the condition in flowers of having many carpels
Derived Formspolygynist, nounpolygynous, adjective

Word Origin for polygyny

C18: from poly- + -gyny, from Greek gunē a woman
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 polygyny

1780, "condition of having many wives," from poly- "many" (see poly-) + Greek gyne "woman, wife" (see queen). Related: Polygynous.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper