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poly·​no·​mi·​al ˌpä-lə-ˈnō-mē-əl How to pronounce polynomial (audio)
: a mathematical expression of one or more algebraic terms each of which consists of a constant multiplied by one or more variables raised to a nonnegative integral power (such as a + bx + cx2)


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: relating to, composed of, or expressed as one or more polynomials
polynomial functions
polynomial equations

Examples of polynomial in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
This same distinction between prime and composite applies to polynomials. Kevin Hartnett, Quanta Magazine, 6 May 2024 Such polynomials can have roots that are real, or roots that are complex. Jordana Cepelewicz, Quanta Magazine, 27 Feb. 2024 Like Reed-Solomon codes, Reed-Muller codes use polynomials with many terms added together to encode long messages. Michael Greshko, Quanta Magazine, 10 Jan. 2024 Factoring a polynomial means breaking it up into a product of other, simpler polynomials. Alex Stone, Quanta Magazine, 5 June 2023 For example, 3x2 + 22x + 35 is a polynomial with three terms. Alex Stone, Quanta Magazine, 5 June 2023 Pilatte replaced numbers with polynomials and made use of the recent work of Columbia University mathematicians. Darren Orf, Popular Mechanics, 8 June 2023 Take the previous example of a polynomial. Quanta Magazine, 5 July 2022 If that additional point fits your polynomial, then the information is correct. Patrick Honner, Quanta Magazine, 23 Jan. 2023
And moreover, for the largest problems, polynomial is not enough. IEEE Spectrum, 20 Oct. 2014 Then as far as each individual variable is concerned, the polynomial encoding the message traces out a simple parabola. Michael Greshko, Quanta Magazine, 10 Jan. 2024 More variables mean more ways to combine them, which in turn offers a way to increase the number of polynomial terms without raising any individual variable to such high powers. Michael Greshko, Quanta Magazine, 10 Jan. 2024 This seemed doable in practice, since the model only needed a polynomial number of data points to achieve accurate predictions. Quanta Magazine, 14 Sep. 2023 Computationally speaking, this doesn’t cost much: Computer scientists describe problems that can be solved by algorithms in polynomial time as easy. Stephen Ornes, Quanta Magazine, 13 July 2023 Many complex numbers are the root of some polynomial with integer coefficients; mathematicians call these numbers algebraic. Quanta Magazine, 27 June 2023 The authors derived a classical algorithm for simulating random circuit sampling and proved that its runtime is a polynomial function of the time required to run the corresponding quantum experiment. Ben Brubaker, Quanta Magazine, 9 Jan. 2023 Curiously, Corwin notes that for polynomial equations (or systems of such equations) in multiple variables, no one knows whether an algorithm can be found for determining whether rational solutions exist. Rachel Crowell, Scientific American, 14 Oct. 2021

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'polynomial.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



poly- + -nomial (as in binomial)

First Known Use


1674, in the meaning defined above


circa 1704, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of polynomial was in 1674

Dictionary Entries Near polynomial

Cite this Entry

“Polynomial.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/polynomial. Accessed 23 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
poly·​no·​mi·​al ˌpäl-i-ˈnō-mē-əl How to pronounce polynomial (audio)
: an algebraic expression having two or more terms
the polynomial a2 + 2ab − b2


2 of 2 adjective
: relating to, composed of, or expressed as one or more polynomials
7023 written as 7(103) + 0(102) + 2(101) + 3(100) is in polynomial form

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