[ pol-ee-fon-ik ]
/ ˌpɒl iˈfɒn ɪk /


consisting of many voices or sounds.
  1. having two or more voices or parts, each with an independent melody, but all harmonizing; contrapuntal (opposed to homophonic).
  2. pertaining to music of this kind.
  3. capable of producing more than one tone at a time, as an organ or a harp.
Phonetics. having more than one phonetic value, as the letter s, that is voiced (z) in nose and unvoiced (s) in salt.

Nearby words

  1. polyphemus moth,
  2. polyphenic gene,
  3. polyphenol,
  4. polyphobia,
  5. polyphone,
  6. polyphonic prose,
  7. polyphony,
  8. polyphosphoric acid,
  9. polyphrasia,
  10. polyphyletic

Origin of polyphonic

First recorded in 1775–85; polyphone + -ic

Related formspol·y·phon·i·cal·ly, adverb

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

Examples from the Web for polyphonic

British Dictionary definitions for polyphonic


/ (ˌpɒlɪˈfɒnɪk) /


music composed of relatively independent melodic lines or parts; contrapuntal
phonetics of, relating to, or denoting a polyphone
Derived Formspolyphonically, adverb

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 polyphonic



1782, formed in English from Greek polyphonos (see polyphony).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper