/peuh lig"euh mee/, n.
1. the practice or condition of having more than one spouse, esp. wife, at one time. Cf. bigamy (def. 1), monogamy (def. 1).
2. Zool. the habit or system of mating with more than one individual, either simultaneously or successively.
[1585-95; < Gk polygamía. See POLY-, -GAMY]

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Marriage to more than one spouse at a time.

Although the term may also refer to polyandry (marriage to more than one man) it is often used as a synonym for polygyny (marriage to more than one woman), which appears to have once been common in most of the world and is still found widely in some cultures. Polygyny seems to offer the husband increased prestige, economic stability, and sexual companionship in cultures where pregnancy and lactation dictate abstinence, while offering the wives a shared labour burden and an institutionalized role where a surplus of unmarried women might otherwise exist. The polygynous family is often fraught with bickering and sexual jealousy; to preserve harmony, one wife may be accorded seniority, and each wife and her children may have separate living quarters. Polyandry is relatively rare; in Tibet and Nepal, where brothers may marry a single woman, the practice serves to limit the number of descendants and keep limited land within the household.

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       marriage to more than one spouse at a time. The most typical forms of polygamy have been polygyny, (polygyny) in which cowives share a husband, or polyandry, in which cohusbands share a wife. However, same-sex marriage may instigate new forms of polygamy.

      The term polygamy is often used as a synonym for polygyny, which appears once to have been fairly common worldwide. Nowhere, however, have any of these been the exclusive form of marriage.

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Universalium. 2010.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • polygamy — po·lyg·a·my /pə li gə mē/ n: the offense of having several and specif. more than two spouses at one time compare bigamy po·lyg·a·mous / məs/ adj Merriam Webster’s Dictionary of Law. Merriam Webster. 1996 …   Law dictionary

  • Polygamy — Po*lyg a*my, n. [Gr. ?; cf. F. polygamie.] 1. The having of a plurality of wives or husbands at the same time; usually, the marriage of a man to more than one woman, or the practice of having several wives, at the same time; opposed to monogamy;… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • polygamy — (n.) 1590s, from L.L. polygamia, from Late Gk. polygamia polygamy, from polygamos often married, from polys many + gamos marriage (see GAMETE (Cf. gamete)). Not etymologically restricted to marriage of one man and multiple women (technically… …   Etymology dictionary

  • polygamy — polygamy. См. полигамия. (Источник: «Англо русский толковый словарь генетических терминов». Арефьев В.А., Лисовенко Л.А., Москва: Изд во ВНИРО, 1995 г.) …   Молекулярная биология и генетика. Толковый словарь.

  • polygamy — [n] plural marriage bigamy, polyandry, polygyny; concepts 297,388 …   New thesaurus

  • polygamy — ► NOUN ▪ the practice or custom of having more than one wife or husband at the same time. DERIVATIVES polygamist noun polygamous adjective. ORIGIN from Greek polugamos often marrying …   English terms dictionary

  • polygamy — [pə lig′ə mē, pōlig′ə mē] n. [Fr polygamie < Gr polygamia: see POLY & GAMY] 1. the state or practice of having two or more spouses at the same time; plural marriage 2. Zool. the practice of mating with more than one of the opposite sex… …   English World dictionary

  • Polygamy — Toba chieftain and his wives, 1892 Polygamy (from πολύς γάμος polys gamos, translated literally in Late Greek as often married )[1] is a marriage which includes more than two partners.[1] …   Wikipedia

  • polygamy — /paligsmiy/ The offense of having several wives or husbands at the same time, or more than one wife or husband at the same time. Bigamy literally means a second marriage distinguished from a third or other; while polygamy means many marriages,… …   Black's law dictionary

  • polygamy — noun /pəˈlɪgəmi/ a) The having of a plurality of socially bonded sexual partners at the same time Originally polygamy could work either or both ways, but civilisation generally forbids simultaneous husbands b) Commonly used specifically for… …   Wiktionary

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