[pol-uh-noh-mee-uh l]
  1. Algebra.
    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.
  2. a polynomial name or term.
  3. Biology. a species name containing more than two terms.

Origin of polynomial

First recorded in 1665–75; poly- + (bi)nomial
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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Historical Examples of polynomial

British Dictionary definitions for polynomial


  1. 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: multinomialany mathematical expression consisting of the sum of a number of terms
  1. 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

polynomial in Science


  1. 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.