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

Chapter 1 is a meditation on the meaning and multiplicity of time. Robert M. Thorson, WSJ, "‘Timefulness’ Review: Thinking in Eons," 30 Dec. 2018 That multiplicity lies precisely at the heart of the new aesthetic—and is the engine of its greatest promise. Larry Blumenfeld, WSJ, "‘Playing Changes’ Review: No Longer Wrestling With Ghosts," 16 Aug. 2018 Adobe already offers a multiplicity of photo and imaging apps for iOS, including a simplified Photoshop Express. Vlad Savov, The Verge, "Adobe’s full Photoshop is reportedly coming to the iPad next year," 13 July 2018 Anderson, not yet 30 and fresh from the MFA program in ceramics at UCLA, puts his abundant technical facility to dazzling use, making work of unresolvable ambiguity and rich multiplicity. Leah Ollman,, "The disturbing meets the sweet in Alex Anderson's new sculptures at Gavlak," 4 July 2018 Now the film is a frothy stage play, with a Hedgerow Theatre Company ensemble of just six actors doing quick changes into a multiplicity of characters. Julia M. Klein,, "'His Girl Friday' at Hedgerow: Fast talk, fast pace," 2 July 2018 Cylios Pytlak of France juggled a multiplicity of silver clubs at jaw-dropping speed. Don Aucoin,, "A Cirque du Soleil show that’s as interested in ‘Ahh’ as ‘Wow’," 29 June 2018 Nothing is primitive here; there’s a multiplicity of action. Alastair Macaulay, New York Times, "Review: From Tap to Sci-Fi Rites at Ballet Theater Gala," 22 May 2018 By depicting the same events through a multiplicity of viewpoints, the show complicated how viewers interpreted them. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, "Dear White People Is Both Timely and Timeless," 5 May 2018

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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Last Updated

15 Feb 2019

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

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More Definitions for multiplicity



English Language Learners Definition of multiplicity

formal : 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

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