po·​ly·​se·​mous | \ˌpä-lē-ˈsē-məs, pə-ˈli-sə-məs \
variants: or polysemic \ˌpä-​lē-​ˈsē-​mik \

Definition of polysemous 

: having multiple meanings

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Other Words from polysemous

polysemy \pə-​ˈli-​sə-​mē, ˈpä-​lē-​ˌsē-​mē \ noun

Examples of polysemous in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

In one of the more extreme polysemous developments, a word can take on an opposite meaning, as dust (v.) can mean to clean up small particles (dust the furniture) or to apply small particles (dust the Bundt cake with powdered sugar). John E. Mcintyre, baltimoresun.com, "In a word: polysemy," 3 July 2017

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

First Known Use of polysemous

1884, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for polysemous

Late Latin polysemus, from Greek polysēmos, from poly- + sēma sign

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The first known use of polysemous was in 1884

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


to move with a clumsy heavy tread

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