One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1Logic and Statistics. Divided into several (usually three or more) groups or subsets; (in later use) involving or relating to a categorical variable that can take any of three or more values. rare before 20th cent.
2Biology. Of physical structures.
3Taxonomy. Of diagrams and mental constructs.
Mid 19th century; earliest use found in William S. Hamilton (1788–1856), philosopher. From poly- + ancient Greek -τόμος + -ous.
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