• synonyms


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.
Show More
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

  • In fact, in such a social state, polygyny can only constitute an exception.

    The Sexual Question

    August Forel

  • Another variety of marriage that has been less common than polygyny is polyandry.


    Henry Kalloch Rowe

  • That polygyny is better than polyandry may be concluded from its effects.

  • This polygyny, in turn, also finally recedes in favour of monogamy.

  • It is obviously nothing but a combination of polyandry and 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
Show More
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.

Show More
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper