[ 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.

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