Definition of polygyny in US English:



  • 1Polygamy in which a man has more than one wife.

    Compare with polyandry
    • ‘For instance, in the practice of polygyny, each wife is typically allotted her own house, most often within the same compound as the other wives but sometimes elsewhere.’
    • ‘Although Muslim law allows polygyny (multiple wives), economic realities mean most Brahui marriages are monogamous.’
    • ‘Although most Hmong men had one wife, polygyny, or marriage with several women, was an accepted practice.’
    • ‘The system of polygyny (multiple wives) guaranteed that all people married.’
    • ‘The Malinke practice polygyny (multiple wives), and Islam permits men to take up to four wives.’
    1. 1.1Zoology A pattern of mating in which a male animal has more than one female mate.
      • ‘As male territoriality is consistent with female defense polygyny, territorial males should be more likely to sire the entire litter of territorial dams sharing his territory.’
      • ‘Second, not all males pair strictly with one female in monogamous species, and low levels of polygyny or males that remain unmated in the population will also increase the variance in male reproductive success.’
      • ‘The female-biased sex ratio was associated with a higher level of polygyny and higher male mating and reproductive success in the secondary forest.’
      • ‘In the absence of inbreeding, the most extreme value of coancestry is achieved by male polygyny together with female philopatry.’
      • ‘Their breeding system is characterized as harem polygyny: one male mates with multiple females.’


Late 18th century: from poly- ‘many’ + Greek gunē ‘woman’.