Definition of polygyny in English:


Pronunciation /pəˈlijənē/ /pəˈlɪdʒəni/


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

    Compare with polyandry

    ‘Although most Hmong men had one wife, polygyny was an accepted practice.’
    • ‘Although Muslim law allows polygyny, economic realities mean most Brahui marriages are monogamous.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The system of polygyny guaranteed that all people married.’
    • ‘The Malinke practice polygyny.’
    1. 1.1Zoology A pattern of mating in which a male animal has more than one female mate.
      ‘Their breeding system is characterized as harem polygyny: one male mates with multiple females.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘In the absence of inbreeding, the most extreme value of coancestry is achieved by male polygyny together with female philopatry.’
      • ‘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.’


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