• synonyms


[pol-uh-nee-zhuh, -shuh]
  1. one of the three principal divisions of Oceania, comprising those island groups in the Pacific lying E of Melanesia and Micronesia and extending from the Hawaiian Islands S to New Zealand.
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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for polynesia

Historical Examples of polynesia

  • And there was the "Polynesia" in the midst of this world of gloom, and anger, and distance.

    From Plotzk to Boston

    Mary Antin

  • "Ay, skipper," the Kanaka answered in the rich, big-chested tones of Polynesia.

    A Son Of The Sun

    Jack London

  • How fervently she wished, now, that the missionaries had never come to Polynesia.

    'That Very Mab'

    May Kendall and Andrew Lang

  • Nineteen Years in Polynesia, p. 238, and Samoa by the same author.

  • Winters chiefly in Polynesia, also Melanesia and Micronesia.

British Dictionary definitions for polynesia


  1. one of the three divisions of islands in the Pacific, the others being Melanesia and Micronesia: includes Samoa, Society, Marquesas, Mangareva, Tuamotu, Cook, and Tubuai Islands, and Tonga
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Word Origin for Polynesia

C18: via French from poly- + Greek nēsos island
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 polynesia



1758, Latinization of French polynésie, coined 1756 by French writer Charles de Brosses (1709-1777) in "Histoire des navigations aux terres australes, contenant ce que l'on sait des moeurs et des productions des contrées découvertes jusqu'à ce jour" (and first in English in a review of it), coined from Greek polys "many" (see poly-) + nesos "island" (see Chersonese). Related: Polynesian.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

polynesia in Culture


Group of islands in the central and southern Pacific Ocean, including the islands of the state of Hawaii and the islands of French Polynesia. Tahiti and Samoa are in Polynesia, which means “many islands.”

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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.