poly·​glot | \ ˈpä-lē-ˌglät How to pronounce polyglot (audio) \

Definition of polyglot

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : one who is polyglot
2 capitalized : a book containing versions of the same text in several languages especially : the Scriptures in several languages
3 : a mixture or confusion of languages or nomenclatures



Definition of polyglot (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : speaking or writing several languages : multilingual
b : composed of numerous linguistic groups a polyglot population
2 : containing matter in several languages a polyglot sign
3 : composed of elements from different languages
4 : widely diverse (as in ethnic or cultural origins) a polyglot cuisine

Keep scrolling for more

Did You Know?


You've probably run across the prefix poly- before-it comes from Greek and means "many" or "multi-." But what about glot? That part of the word comes from the Greek term glōtta, meaning "language" or "tongue." (Glōtta is also the source of glottis, the word for the space between the vocal cords.) Polyglot itself entered English in the 17th century, both as an adjective and as a noun meaning "one who can write or speak several languages." You could call the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V a polyglot. He claimed that he addressed his horse only in German, he conversed with women in Italian and with men in French, but reserved Spanish for his talks with God.

Examples of polyglot in a Sentence


a polyglot community made up of many cultures

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Exceedingly tall, distinguished, and courtly, the polyglot designer Michael Howells, who has died at the age of 61, was a towering figure in every way—a man of infinite charm, wit, and personal elegance. Hamish Bowles, Vogue, "Hamish Bowles Remembers Michael Howells," 19 July 2018 The pop-culture polyglot known as Cher snuck quietly into Chicago this past weekend. Chris Jones, chicagotribune.com, "Cher sneaks into Chicago. And what does she think of 'The Cher Show'?," 25 June 2018 The former president is urbane, polyglot and out of touch. The Economist, "Peru’s new president, Martín Vizcarra, explains his plans," 17 May 2018 But material was clipped from the finished product as always, especially true for a cosmopolitan polyglot with an otherworldly dedication to fitness. Alex Prewitt, SI.com, "Five Stories That Show Off Zdeno Chara's Relentless Focus," 5 Apr. 2018 While some athletes are destined to embody their names, Stanton’s name — polyglot, lyrical and lengthy — may reveal something about him, too. Billy Witz, New York Times, "How Giancarlo Stanton Let Go of ‘Mike’ and Embraced Who He Is," 2 Apr. 2018 Figure out how to communicate with these stubborn polyglots, and then check the solution here. Jay Bennett, Popular Mechanics, "Riddle of the Week #52: Knights and Knaves, Part 10," 2 Mar. 2018 Thaer was an Iraqi lawyer and polyglot who spoke five languages and knew everyone. Phillip Carter, Slate Magazine, "In barring even those who’ve helped us wage our wars, Trump signaled to the world that American friendship comes with an asterisk.," 28 Jan. 2017 But buried in all the announcements of the event—a new laptop, a clip-on body camera, and a supercharged Google Home that doesn't sound terrible—was one new piece of hardware that got us non-polyglots very excited: The Google Pixel Buds. Sebastian Modak, CNT, "Google's New Pixel Buds Can Translate Languages in Real Time," 5 Oct. 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Bomberger’s book leaves one with the uneasy feeling that the First World War encouraged the rise of an American musical chauvinism, one that restricted the polyglot makeup of the nation’s culture at the turn of the last century. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, "The “Star-Spangled Banner” Controversy That Altered the Course of American Music," 2 July 2019 In Sanchez’s hands, pastiche is not only a reflection of our polyglot image empire but also a way of exposing the mechanisms by which that empire functions. Sharon Mizota, latimes.com, "Gabriella Sanchez spells out her resistance to Eurocentric art," 1 July 2019 With Legrand’s death earlier this year at the age of 86, Tana decided to put together a program focusing on the songwriter’s standards, featuring the lustrous and appropriately polyglot vocalist Jackie Ryan. Andrew Gilbert, The Mercury News, "Big names buoy the Stanford Jazz Festival’s 37th season," 21 June 2019 The choice is ultimately not between an Anglophone Europe and a truly polyglot Europe but between wishful thinking and realism. The Economist, "Brexit is the ideal moment to make English the EU’s common language," 15 June 2019 Meanwhile, a polyglot throng including people from Africa, Asia and the Caribbean regularly gathers at the local headquarters of the National Institute of Immigration, Mexico’s agency for migrant affairs. latimes.com, "Today: Stuck in Southern Mexico," 14 June 2019 Meanwhile, a polyglot throng including people from Africa, Asia and the Caribbean regularly gathers at the local headquarters of the National Institute of Immigration, Mexico’s agency for migrant affairs. San Diego Union-Tribune, "At Mexico’s southern border, migrants feel the pinch of a crackdown spurred by U.S.," 13 June 2019 The brand most closely associated with the polyglot designer has released a new podcast featuring one of Lagerfeld’s final interviews. Steff Yotka, Vogue, "Karl Lagerfeld Has the Last Word on Chanel’s New Podcast," 2 Mar. 2019 Its visual language, its byzantine plotting, its go-for-broke expansiveness are all irresistibly polyglot: Bollywood maximalism meets downbeat Euro noir meets Hollywood gangster epic. Taylor Antrim, Vogue, "Netflix’s Sacred Games Is Your Next Binge Watch," 20 July 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of polyglot


circa 1645, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1650, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for polyglot

Adjective and Noun

Greek polyglōttos, from poly- + glōtta language — more at gloss

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about polyglot

Listen to Our Podcast about polyglot

Statistics for polyglot

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for polyglot

The first known use of polyglot was circa 1645

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for polyglot



English Language Learners Definition of polyglot

: knowing or using several languages
: made up of people or things from different cultures, countries, etc.

More from Merriam-Webster on polyglot

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with polyglot

Comments on polyglot

What made you want to look up polyglot? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to form ideas or theories about something

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!