Share this entry

polygamy Line breaks: pol¦yg|amy
Pronunciation: /pəˈlɪɡəmi/

Definition of polygamy in English:


[mass noun]
1The practice or custom of having more than one wife or husband at the same time.
Example sentences
  • Polyandry (multiple husbands) has recently been abolished; the practice of polygamy is legal provided the first wife grants her consent.
  • In 1904 church President Joseph F. Smith presented a second manifesto that disciplined those who continued to practice polygamy or perform plural marriages.
  • Some wealthy Tuareg men practice polygamy (having more than one wife at the same time).
1.1 Zoology A pattern of mating in which an animal has more than one mate.
Example sentences
  • Mating systems characterized by restricted breeding seasons, male polygamy, and female monogamy are common among animals.
  • For example, species without care or with uniparental care are expected to show higher levels of polygamy than do species with biparental care.
  • Evening Grosbeaks are generally monogamous, although when there is an unusually plentiful food supply, polygamy can occur.
1.2 Botany The condition of bearing some flowers with stamens only, some with pistils only, and some with both, on the same or different plants.
Example sentences
  • In plants, polygamy means the co-occurrence and function of monosexual and bisexual individuals in a population.
  • Circumstances show that matrimony is something good for people, and circumstances likewise justify polygamy for plants and animals.


Late 16th century: from French polygamie, via late Latin from Greek polugamia, from polugamos 'often marrying'.



Pronunciation: /pəˈlɪɡəmɪst/
Example sentences
  • Most of the estimated 30,000 people practising polygamy in the West trace their roots to early Mormon doctrine, although the church abandoned the practice in 1890 and excommunicates polygamists.
  • Admittedly, traditional marriage counselling has done wonders for some, but there are also accomplished and articulate polygamists you can turn to for excellent advice as well.
  • From the London Sunday Times, we learn that Muslim polygamists may get special tax breaks in Britain.

Words that rhyme with polygamy

bigamy, trigamy

Definition of polygamy in:

Share this entry


What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove ads and access premium resources

Word of the day innocuous
Pronunciation: iˈnäkyo͞oəs
not harmful or offensive