[ puh-lij-uh-nee ]
See 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.

  1. (among social insects) the condition of having two or more functioning queens in a colony.

  2. Botany. the state or condition of having many pistils or styles.

Origin of polygyny

1770–80; <Greek polygýn(aios) having many wives (see poly-, gyn-) + -y3

Words that may be confused with polygyny

Words Nearby polygyny

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

How to use polygyny in a sentence

  • It is everywhere set aside, to a greater or less extent, in favour of the two forms of polygamy—polygyny and polyandry.

  • Hence the original form of polygamy was probably not polygyny—the only form, practically, that later occurs—but polyandry.

  • Indeed, this is what has almost universally happened wherever pure polygyny prevails.

  • In the northerly regions, where immigration and racial fusion have played a greater rle, both monogamy and polygyny may be found.

  • The same is true of America and of Africa, monogamy decidedly predominating in the former and polygyny in the latter.

British Dictionary definitions for polygyny


/ (pəˈlɪdʒɪnɪ) /

  1. the practice or condition of being married to more than one wife at the same time: Compare polygamy

  2. the practice in animals of a male mating with more than one female during one breeding season

  1. the condition in flowers of having many carpels

Origin of polygyny

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

Derived forms of polygyny

  • polygynist, noun
  • polygynous, adjective

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