Definition of polymath in English:



  • A person of wide knowledge or learning.

    ‘a Renaissance polymath’
    • ‘A prodigy and a polymath, he first came to notice as ‘the bad boy of music’ in the Twenties Paris avant-garde, associated with Pound.’
    • ‘Moreau's art is a reassemblage of the memory and the tricks of the memory, as thorough and as convolute as Proust's vast quest for a half-lost past that was, likewise, the lifework of a polymath spellbound by beauty.’
    • ‘What I didn't know at the time was he was also a polymath, with a wide range of interests and a photographic memory.’
    • ‘In a century of eclectic geniuses, Casanova was a supreme polymath.’
    • ‘Writing in The New York Times Book Review, Judith Shulevitz gushed, ‘Novelists, in short, have become our public intellectuals - our polymaths, our geographers, our scholars of the material world.’’
    • ‘This mystical attraction to words would lead him not only to become a linguistic polymath, but to invent his own private language, with its own alphabet, which he used in writing his diary.’
    • ‘His portrait of this elusive, intensely private genius describes Faraday's links with painters and poets, polymaths and mystics.’
    • ‘This, Zimmer claims, was the achievement of the group of virtuosi - highly talented polymaths more or less trapped in Oxford during the civil war and the Cromwellian republic of the mid-17th century.’
    • ‘In high school, I studied American history with a nineteenth-century-style polymath who assigned us readings from Richard Hofstadter.’
    • ‘There is a similar irony in the fact that he was one of the last great polymaths - not in the frivolous sense of having a wide general knowledge, but in the deeper sense of one who is a citizen of the whole world of intellectual inquiry.’
    • ‘James Lighthill was indeed a brilliant scientist; but he was also a polymath, with knowledge, insight and enthusiasm for the arts and humanities.’
    • ‘If you are one of the benighted majority, you should know that he was one of those Victorian Scottish polymaths; a poet, theologian, and geologist of some genius.’
    • ‘I took heart from an interview with Thomas Stoppard where somebody said to him, ‘You're such a polymath,’ and he said, ‘Yes, for about three months.’’
    • ‘He was a polymath and was offered a history scholarship before opting for medicine.’
    • ‘Raskin's CV reads something like a masterclass in being a polymath: he was an accomplished musician, programmer and designer.’
    • ‘For as long as there has been a publishing industry, there have been used books, that supposedly quaint world of polymaths and antiquarians poking about musty, cluttered stores for titles few readers would know.’
    • ‘In an age of polymaths who mastered all the disciplines, knew many languages, and wrote more than any modern can read, chronology, with its varied contents and technical difficulties, seemed the essence of scholarship.’
    • ‘A prodigious polymath, he wrote on subjects as varied as grammar and gout, ethics and eczema, and was highly regarded in his lifetime as a philosopher as well as a doctor.’
    • ‘These polymaths often resented their lack of recognition from specialist professional academics, and compensated by seeking political success.’
    • ‘An autodidact and a polymath, Wallace studied economics, meteorology, history, genetics, and many other subjects.’
    intelligent person, learned person, highbrow, academic, bookworm, bookish person, man of letters, woman of letters, bluestocking, thinker, brain, scholar, sage
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Early 17th century: from Greek polumathēs ‘having learned much’, from polu- ‘much’ + the stem of manthanein ‘learn’.