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Word of the Day
Thursday, September 21, 2017

Definitions for polyhistor

  1. a person of great and varied learning.

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Citations for polyhistor
Most could not read, in contrast to Falcon, a polyhistor who spent twenty hours a week pouring over old tomes when the weather was fair--this, because as captain he could not bear having anyone, especially his first mate, correct him. Charles Johnson, Middle Passage, 1990
For writings so full-bodied as those he was to give to the world, it was necessary that he should step into literature as already himself a polyhistor or accomplished universal scholar; and, when he did step conspicuously into literature, it was in fact as already such a polyhistor. David Masson, "Masson's Interpretation of Carlyle," The Popular Science Monthly, December 1885
Origin of polyhistor
The English combining form poly- meaning “much, many” is also a combining form in Greek, with the same meanings, and is very familiar from such words as polygon (Greek polýgōnon “polygon,” literally “many-angled, many-kneed”) and polygamy (Greek polygamía “frequent marriage, polygamy”). The second element, -histor, comes from Greek ístōr (also hístōr, and in some dialects wístōr), which means “one who knows the law, a judge; learned, skilled.” Hístōr also appears in history (Greek, historía “investigation, the published results of an investigation”). The is-, his-, and wis- are the usual Greek phonetic developments of the Proto-Indo-European root weid- “to see, know,” source of Greek ideîn (from wideîn) “to see” and eidénai (from weidénai) “to know,” Latin vidēre “to see,” English wit, unwitting, and Slavic (Czech) vědět “to know” and vidět "to see." Polyhistor entered English in the 16th century.