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polyphonic

[pol-ee-fon-ik]
adjective
  1. consisting of many voices or sounds.
  2. Music.
    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.
  3. Phonetics. having more than one phonetic value, as the letter s, that is voiced (z) in nose and unvoiced (s) in salt.
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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. 2018

Examples from the Web for polyphonic

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • He is not polyphonic,—to borrow a musical metaphor,—but monophonie.

    Iconoclasts

    James Huneker

  • The tune is distinctly in the modern key of G major, and it is not polyphonic.

    How Music Developed

    W. J. Henderson

  • The polyphonic writing is matchless in its evenness; every part is as good as every other part.

    How Music Developed

    W. J. Henderson

  • We have seen how it grew out of organ playing and was at first polyphonic.

    How Music Developed

    W. J. Henderson

  • A few themes with polyphonic variations filled his simple life.

    Unicorns

    James Huneker


British Dictionary definitions for polyphonic

polyphonic

adjective
  1. music composed of relatively independent melodic lines or parts; contrapuntal
  2. many-voiced
  3. phonetics of, relating to, or denoting a polyphone
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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

adj.

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

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper