Definition of polyglot in English:



  • 1Knowing or using several languages.

    ‘a polyglot career woman’
    • ‘The polyglot Pope, at intervals, addressed the crowd in Romanian, Serbian, Croatian, Czech, and Polish.’
    • ‘A polyglot Englishman in Vienna and Berlin, a Jewish immigrant in Britain and a maverick among Communists, Hobsbawm is today almost as much at home in France, Italy and Latin America as he is in Hyde Park.’
    • ‘It is also the story of polyglot India, where most of the population speaks, and habitually switches among, several languages.’
    • ‘Recent history suggests that the best option for people of my polyglot persuasion is a Republican Congress and a moderate Democrat in the White House.’
    • ‘The six years since her debut La Llorona have taken Montreal's celebrated, polyglot chanteuse Lhasa de Sela far and wide, including a hit-and-run circus tour through France with her family.’
    • ‘Many of the poems attend to the ‘errors’ inevitable in a polyglot society, particularly at the interactions between Yiddish and English.’
    • ‘The polyglot entries were random, frustrating, and beautiful, a carnival of ideas, pleas, boasts, and obsolete phone numbers.’
    • ‘This is Los Angeles in the year 2019, when most of the earth's inhabitants have colonized other planets, and only a polyglot refuse heap of humanity remains.’
    • ‘The patrons of the Academie are a roll call of the great and good, including Michel David-Weill, of Lazards Bank, and Sir Peter Ustinov, the polyglot actor and raconteur.’
    • ‘Finally, regional media is thriving on TV, satellite language channels are catering to polyglot populations in various parts of the country.’
    • ‘Malaysia must not deviate from upholding the pluralism, tolerance and understanding that are the hallmark of a civil, democratic, multireligious, multicultural and polyglot society.’
    • ‘But also in the capital a polyglot city council met for the first time, its members ranging from tribal leaders in head-dresses to women in smart business suits.’
    • ‘In Bombay, which he calls a polyglot city, the Goan world is eclectic, informed by an urban Christianity that mingles with a mainstream culture while trying to preserve its identity.’
    • ‘He won in polyglot neighborhoods like Flushing and the Lower East Side by three-to-one and three-to-two, respectively.’
    • ‘"I enjoy Mandarin, " said the polyglot Madigan, who speaks fluent French and German, fair Italian as well as some Putonghua.’
    • ‘But a major faux pas has made the new Barbie unexpectedly controversial in polyglot America: there is no Asian-American version.’
    • ‘After 1947, a vibrant, polyglot city became monocultural.’
    • ‘The polyglot orchestra backing her up plays world music from everywhere and nowhere that incorporates Middle Eastern clarinet, European glockenspiel and other mellifluous sounds in addition to Mexican mariachi guitar.’
    • ‘But this fellow has embraced that polyglot population with a wonderful warmth that I would never have imagined…’
    • ‘Rebecca West filled Black Lamb and Grey Falcon with brilliant speeches and diatribes by a polyglot cast of characters, and Furst has a similar cacophony of speakers analyzing every detail of the political situation.’
    1. 1.1 (of a book) having the text translated into several languages.
      ‘polyglot and bilingual technical dictionaries’
      • ‘The advantages of printing in a university were exemplified in the polyglot Bible produced in 1502-22 at Alcalá de Henares.’
      • ‘The Polyglot Book of Mormon allows you see side-by-side passages for English, German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian.’


  • A person who knows and is able to use several languages.

    • ‘Older Luritja speakers may still be polyglots, however they consistently live in the same region, usually the same residential community, where the same language is consistently spoken.’
    • ‘He was a polyglot and absorbed everything around him and didn't limit himself, and that makes him exceptional in a world that too often prizes limitation.’
    • ‘Here's a link to the original story for you Germans and polyglots out there.’
    • ‘Nik, as luck would have it, is something of a polyglot.’
    • ‘As a polyglot (besides his native Swedish, he was fluent in Finnish, English, and German and knew some French) and cultured person, LvH was Finnish ornithology's best ambassador.’
    • ‘Not to worry, though, this 61-year-old polyglot can talk to all species with the dexterity of a Doolittle.’
    • ‘The rest of the participants appear to be polyglots.’
    • ‘He is the son of a Russian father and a Swedish mother, and a natural polyglot.’
    • ‘Slovenians, being surrounded by many countries, are mostly polyglots.’
    • ‘I have no means of telling how many polyglots of Chinese descent existed over time.’
    • ‘Marco Silvestri clearly think he's the only polyglot on the planet.’
    • ‘He deeply explored notions of love, Europe, and identity, and was a polyglot who insisted that linguistic proficiency was the key to overcoming misunderstandings and ignorance.’
    • ‘This is not the first time that a representative of The Netherlands - that distinguished nation of cycling polyglots - has cast aspersions on our linguistic abilities.’
    • ‘Recently, a publication has been brought out on the less-known Suddhananda Bharati, who, like Subramanya Bharati, was a polyglot.’
    • ‘Language was also an important consideration, but Walker claims it was polyglots, not mere English speakers, that he sought.’
    • ‘Agassiz, a typical Swiss polyglot, annotated books in the language of their composition.’
    • ‘Later that night, when she came home, she rummaged through her books in an effort to find an essay written by a polyglot (like herself) that explains the kind of rootlessness that is hers.’
    • ‘It's not that we polyglots and film buffs are not worried.’
    • ‘Diplomatic Warsaw is abuzz with rumours that Mr Kwasniewski, a smooth, tennis-playing polyglot who is seen as one of the champions of New Europe, won US backing on a visit to the White House earlier this month.’
    • ‘A Brazilian-born polyglot who can be both charismatic and ruthless, Ghosn did not make his mark in the industry by leaving things as he found them.’
    interpreter, transcriber, transliterator, paraphraser, decipherer
    View synonyms


Mid 17th century: from French polyglotte, from Greek poluglōttos, from polu- ‘many’ + glōtta ‘tongue’.