mul·​ti·​plic·​i·​ty | \ ˌməl-tə-ˈpli-sə-tē How to pronounce multiplicity (audio) \
plural multiplicities

Definition of multiplicity

1a : the quality or state of being multiple or various
b : the number of components in a system (such as a multiplet or a group of energy levels)
2 : a great number
3 : the number of times a root of an equation or zero of a function occurs when there is more than one root or zero the multiplicity of x = 2 for the equation (x − 2)3 = 0 is 3

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Examples of multiplicity in a Sentence

a multiplicity of suggestions for turning the company around Shakespeare's works seem to encompass the full multiplicity of human experience.
Recent Examples on the Web Orlean is committed to investigating the dizzying multiplicity of roles animals serve — employee, best friend, harbinger of climate change — and the places where those functions intersect. Margaret Wappler, Los Angeles Times, 12 Oct. 2021 Such uniformity now seems outrageous, both antiquated and out of sync with a culture rejoicing in the hard-fought visibility of people who mirror the splendid multiplicity of our modern global society. Maya Singer, Vogue, 5 Aug. 2021 Democrats in Congress are proving to be harder to corral behind a $3.5 trillion multiplicity of tax increases and entitlement expansions than their leaders had hoped. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 24 Sep. 2021 So much of Jewish culture is geared toward language, toward the word, the engine of the word and the depths of the word, its multiplicity of meanings and its openness to interpretation. Deborah Treisma, The New Yorker, 13 Sep. 2021 In Texas generally, and in Dallas in particular, there are a multiplicity of histories, and they are not all acknowledged, or acknowledged fairly. Mark Lamster, Dallas News, 2 Sep. 2021 To me, a multiplicity of voices will be the best technique for drowning out the insane or bad or destructive voices. Geek's Guide To The Galaxy, WIRED, 20 Aug. 2021 The interaction poignantly captured the moment’s multiplicity of emotion: sadness, indignation, purpose. Isaac Lozano, San Diego Union-Tribune, 19 Aug. 2021 Williams’s smile didn’t signal her feeling misunderstood so much as her understanding that a single song, or even a single musical gesture, can communicate a multiplicity of ideas. Washington Post, 15 Aug. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'multiplicity.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of multiplicity

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for multiplicity

Middle English, from Middle French multiplicité, from Late Latin multiplicitat-, multiplicitas, from Latin multiplic-, multiplex

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Time Traveler for multiplicity

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The first known use of multiplicity was in the 15th century

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Last Updated

25 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Multiplicity.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for multiplicity



English Language Learners Definition of multiplicity

: a very large number


mul·​ti·​plic·​i·​ty | \ ˌməl-tə-ˈplis-ət-ē How to pronounce multiplicity (audio) \
plural multiplicities

Medical Definition of multiplicity

1 : the quality or state of being multiple or various
2 : the ratio of the number of infectious particles (as of a bacteriophage) to the number of cells at risk monolayer cultures … were infected at an effective multiplicity of approximately 100— J. J. Holland


mul·​ti·​plic·​i·​ty | \ ˌməl-tə-ˈpli-sə-tē How to pronounce multiplicity (audio) \
plural multiplicities

Legal Definition of multiplicity

1a : the quality or state of being multiple or various
b : the charging of a single criminal act or offense as multiple separate charges or counts of an indictment or information multiplicity does not require dismissal of the indictment— W. R. LaFave and J. H. Israel — compare duplicity sense 2, misjoinder

Note: Multiplicity raises the risk of violating the double jeopardy protection against receiving multiple sentences for a single offense. Multiplicity is a defect that can be corrected without dismissal of the case.

2 : a great number joinder is allowed to avoid a multiplicity of actions

More from Merriam-Webster on multiplicity

Nglish: Translation of multiplicity for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of multiplicity for Arabic Speakers


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