[ pol-uh-mer ]
/ ˈpɒl ə mər /

noun Chemistry.

a compound of high molecular weight derived either by the addition of many smaller molecules, as polyethylene, or by the condensation of many smaller molecules with the elimination of water, alcohol, or the like, as nylon.
a compound formed from two or more polymeric compounds.
a product of polymerization.

Nearby words

  1. polymastia,
  2. polymath,
  3. polymathy,
  4. polymelia,
  5. polymenorrhea,
  6. polymer fume fever,
  7. polymerase,
  8. polymeria,
  9. polymeric,
  10. polymerism

Compare monomer.

Origin of polymer

First recorded in 1865–70, polymer is from the Greek word polymerḗs having many parts. See poly-, -mer

Related formssu·per·pol·y·mer, noun

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for polymer

  • But the stuff Vaneski used to patch my suit is a polymer that leaks hydrogen very easily.

    Unwise Child|Gordon Randall Garrett

British Dictionary definitions for polymer


/ (ˈpɒlɪmə) /


a naturally occurring or synthetic compound, such as starch or Perspex, that has large molecules made up of many relatively simple repeated unitsCompare copolymer, oligomer
Derived Formspolymerism (pəˈlɪməˌrɪzəm, ˈpɒlɪmə-), noun

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 polymer



a substance built from a large number of simple molecules of the same kind, 1855, probably from German Polymere (Berzelius, 1830), from Greek polymeres "having many parts," from polys "many" (see poly-) + meros "part" (see merit (n.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for polymer


[ pŏlə-mər ]


Any of numerous compounds of usually high molecular weight and consisting of up to millions of repeated linked units, each a relatively light and simple molecule.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Science definitions for polymer


[ pŏlə-mər ]

Any of various chemical compounds made of smaller, identical molecules (called monomers) linked together. Some polymers, like cellulose, occur naturally, while others, like nylon, are artificial. Polymers have extremely high molecular weights, make up many of the tissues of organisms, and have extremely varied and versatile uses in industry, such as in making plastics, concrete, glass, and rubber.♦ The process by which molecules are linked together to form polymers is called polymerization (pŏl′ə-lĭm′ər-ĭ-zāshən).
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Culture definitions for polymer


[ (pol-uh-muhr) ]

In chemistry, a long molecule made up of a chain of smaller, simpler molecules.


Proteins and many carbohydrates, such as cellulose, are polymers. Plastics are also polymers.

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.