• synonyms


[ pol-uh-noh-mee-uh l ]
/ ˌpɒl əˈnoʊ mi əl /


consisting of or characterized by two or more names or terms.


  1. (in one variable) an expression consisting of the sum of two or more terms each of which is the product of a constant and a variable raised to an integral power: ax2 + bx + c is a polynomial, where a, b, and c are constants and x is a variable.
  2. a similar expression in more than one variable, as 4x2y3 − 3xy + 5x + 7.
  3. Now Rare.Also called multinomial. any expression consisting of the sum of two or more terms, as 4x3 + cos x.
a polynomial name or term.
Biology. a species name containing more than two terms.

Nearby words

polyneuralgia, polyneuritic psychosis, polyneuritis, polyneuropathy, polynices, polynomial, polynomial ring, polynuclear, polynucleotidase, polynucleotide, polynya

Origin of polynomial

First recorded in 1665–75; poly- + (bi)nomial Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for polynomial

  • This polynomial expression was shortened by Linnæus to Zeus faber.

    A Guide to the Study of Fishes, Volume 1 (of 2)|David Starr Jordan
  • But the polynomial method as a system was of short duration.

  • The two dots at the end are frequently omitted when the part affected includes all the terms of the polynomial to the end.

    William Oughtred|Florian Cajori
  • The last case arises when we consider the finite values of z for which the polynomial coefficient of sn vanishes.

British Dictionary definitions for polynomial


/ (ˌpɒlɪˈnəʊmɪəl) /


of, consisting of, or referring to two or more names or terms


  1. a mathematical expression consisting of a sum of terms each of which is the product of a constant and one or more variables raised to a positive or zero integral power. For one variable, x, the general form is given by: a 0 x n + a 1 x n –1 + … + a n –1 x + a n, where a 0, a 1, etc, are real numbers
  2. Also called: multinomial any mathematical expression consisting of the sum of a number of terms
biology a taxonomic name consisting of more than two terms, such as Parus major minor in which minor designates the subspecies
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 polynomial


1670s (n.), 1704 (adj.), irregularly formed from poly- + stem of binomial.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Science definitions for polynomial


[ pŏl′ē-nōmē-əl ]

An algebraic expression that is the sum of two or more monomials. The expressions x2 - 4 and 5x4 + 2x3 - x + 7 are both polynomials.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.