Definition of polygamous in US English:



  • 1Practicing, relating to, or involving polygamy.

    ‘polygamous societies’
    • ‘Women often are widowed and as there are more women than men of marriageable age, there is a relatively high number of polygamous households.’
    • ‘In polygamous households (more common among the wealthy, but not restricted to them), the first wife tends to be a close cousin and the second wife a younger, less-close relative.’
    • ‘The latter have their own polygamous tradition, one that today even extends to dating: thus it is not uncommon for a young Zulu man to have several girl-friends.’
    • ‘This happens routinely after marriage, and women from decimated kin groups are taken as wives in this polygamous society, without brideprice having to be paid.’
    • ‘Polygamy provides perhaps the best opportunity among the three for obtaining the requisite data: there have been and continue to be polygamous societies.’
    • ‘As Paul Rubin has noted, the definition of marriage in this manner may have even contributed to the rise of the western world versus polygamous societies.’
    • ‘The average household contains six persons, but extended families and polygamous households may be much larger.’
    • ‘In polygamous marriages, wives cooperate in performing household duties, although each rears her own children.’
    • ‘Similarly, in polygamous societies, the operation of sexual selection would have increased the differential advantage of the most viable in finding mates and having progeny.’
    • ‘In a polygamous family, each wife is responsible for feeding and caring for her own children, though the wives often help each other when needed.’
    • ‘The code prohibited polygamous marriages and forced marriage for girls, established a minimum age for marriage, and required judicial divorce rather than repudiation.’
    • ‘These family compounds accommodate the large extended families and polygamous marriages that are common among the Maninka ethnic group.’
    • ‘In a few cases, the polygamous relationships have been continued secretly or on an informal basis.’
    • ‘In polygamous marriages, each wife has her own apartment in a large family house.’
    • ‘The study concludes with the founding of the mission, just before Gsell's famous intervention to ‘buy’ Tiwi females from their polygamous promised husbands.’
    • ‘Although I am no expert in the anthropology of wealth in polygamous and non-polygamous societies, I absolutely agree with Dr. Hartung's general points.’
    • ‘The Portuguese and Macanese had formal monogamous marriage, while the Chinese also engaged in polygamous unions until the 1940s (depending on the economic situation of the husband).’
    • ‘In a number of polygamous tribal societies the preferred marriage pattern is for a man to marry two sisters, who are also his cross-cousins.’
    • ‘Few could afford polygamous marriages, although polygamy varies both between rural areas and urban centers, and between ethnic groups.’
    • ‘Monogamy was always the rule in Albania, but polygamous marriages existed up to the beginning of the twentieth century in some areas, particularly if the first wife was not able to bear a son.’
    1. 1.1Zoology (of an animal) typically having more than one mate.
      • ‘In polygamous ungulates the development of large body size, fighting abilities, and consequent high social status is important in male mating access.’
      • ‘Inconsistent results from studies of polygamous birds suggest that mating system may not be the most influential factor on dispersal.’
      • ‘Howler monkeys are polygamous, living in groups of usually 4-11 individuals, including one or more males.’
      • ‘All deer are polygamous, with males competing for females, but the manner in which each species approaches courtship has much to do with the nature of its environment.’
      • ‘Male California sea lions are polygamous, mating with many females.’
    2. 1.2Botany (of a plant) bearing some flowers with stamens only, some with pistils only, and some with both, on the same or different plants.
      • ‘these are what botanists term polygamous flowers, i. e., some of them are perfect, containing both stamens and pistils; some are male only; others, again, are female.’
      • ‘The sections Hastati and Afroacetosa are composed of polygamous and gynodioecious species as well as a dioecious one, Rumex sagittatus, which lacks differentiated sex chromosomes.’


Early 17th century: from Greek polugamos (from polu- ‘much, often’ + -gamos ‘marrying’) + -ous.