[ puh-lif-uh-nee ]
/ pəˈlɪf ə ni /


Music. polyphonic composition; counterpoint.
Phonetics. representation of different sounds by the same letter or symbol.

Nearby words

  1. polyphenol,
  2. polyphobia,
  3. polyphone,
  4. polyphonic,
  5. polyphonic prose,
  6. polyphosphoric acid,
  7. polyphrasia,
  8. polyphyletic,
  9. polyphyodont,
  10. polypill

Origin of polyphony

First recorded in 1820–30, polyphony is from the Greek word polyphōnía variety of tones. See poly-, -phony

Related formspo·lyph·o·nous, adjectivepo·lyph·o·nous·ly, adverb

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

Examples from the Web for polyphony

British Dictionary definitions for polyphony


/ (pəˈlɪfənɪ) /

noun plural -nies

polyphonic style of composition or a piece of music utilizing it
the use of polyphones in a writing system
Derived Formspolyphonous, adjectivepolyphonously, adverb

Word Origin for polyphony

C19: from Greek poluphōnia diversity of tones, from poly- + phōnē speech, sound

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 polyphony



1828, "multiplicity of sounds," from Greek polyphonia "variety of sounds," from polyphonos "having many sounds or voices," from polys "many" (see poly-) + phone "voice, sound" (see fame (n.)). The meaning "counterpoint" (1864) is perhaps a back-formation from the adjective.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper