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

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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

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 Non-professional Cardona, a performer with natural dignity and an ability to project concern, does fine work as Jose, and filmmaker McKay expertly conveys the sense of a polyglot neighborhood where multi-culturalism is lived, not theorized about. Kenneth Turan, latimes.com, "'En el Séptimo Día' (On the Seventh Day) shines a light on the everyday lives of Mexican immigrants," 14 June 2018 Café Alaska was not so much a place of refreshment as a carousel of human comedies spun around the noisy grinding of coffee beans and furnished with a rack of polyglot newspapers on the far wall. Norman Lebrecht, WSJ, "‘A Rich Brew’ Review: A Remarkable Cultural Infusion," 28 June 2018 Yemen Blues Ravid Kahalani's Yemen Blues brings a polyglot mix of music from Yemen and West Africa, with inspirations of contemporary grooves, from funk to mambo, and the deep soul of old chants. Laura Demarco, cleveland.com, "Cleveland Museum of art announces 2018 Solstice performers, ticket info," 2 May 2018 Consider the Philadelphia 76ers, whose polyglot roster includes players from seven countries. New York Times, "A Polyglot N.B.A. Swears by One Thing: That Call Was #@!&," 30 Apr. 2018 Like gumbo, sauce piquant is one of Louisiana’s polyglot dishes, combining elements of Cajun, Creole, Italian, French and Spanish cuisines. Keith Pandolfi, WSJ, "The Spicy Red Sauce That Goes With Everything," 14 Mar. 2018 Economy Minister Peter Altmaier, 59, a polyglot gourmet cook, has been a steadfast Merkel loyalist, taking on taken some of the toughest jobs for the chancellor. Arne Delfs, Bloomberg.com, "Merkel Appoints Conservative Flag-Bearer to New Cabinet," 25 Feb. 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.

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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

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Time Traveler for polyglot

The first known use of polyglot was circa 1645

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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.

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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 move with exaggerated bouncy motions

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