The Meaning of Polyglot: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of polyglot? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word polyglot, including its definition, etymology, usage, examples, and more!

Your writing, at its best

Compose bold, clear, mistake-free, writing with Grammarly's AI-powered writing assistant

What does the word polyglot mean?

According to Collins English Dictionary as well as other sources like Merriam-Webster and the American Heritage Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, a polyglot is a person who speaks and understands many different languages. It can also be used to describe a book or society in which there are several different languages used. Polyglot is three syllables – po-ly-glot, and the pronunciation of polyglot is pɒliglɒt. A polyglot Bible might have a mixture of various languages in it, or polyglot cities like Brussels might speak two languages – in that case, French and Dutch. The polyglot lexicon encompasses a wide confusion of languages. Polyglots can be anywhere – France, Italy, Los Angeles, and more. It would be amazing to live in a polyglot world where everyone has the command of many languages and their subject matter so we could all communicate.

Many different languages also contain words that mean polyglot. You may notice that some of these words look very similar to one another. These are called cognates. Cognates are words and phrases that look and sound similar between languages while also meaning something similar. These are often formed when two words have the same language of origin or root. This list of translations of polyglot is provided by Word Sense

  •  Finnish: monikielinen‎
  •  Italian: poliglotta‎ (masc.) (f)
  •  Georgian: პოლიგლოტი‎
  •  Portuguese: poliglota‎
  •  Dutch: meertalig‎, polyglot‎
  •  Turkish: çokdilli‎
  •  Russian: многоязы́чный‎
  •  Manx: yl-çhengagh‎
  •  Polish: wielojęzyczny‎, wielojęzykowy‎, różnojęzyczny‎, różnojęzykowy‎, kilkujęzyczny‎, kilkujęzykowy‎
  •  Bulgarian: полиглот‎
  •  Faroese: fleirmæltur‎
  •  Greek: πολύγλωσσος‎ (masc.)
  •  German: mehrsprachig‎, polyglott‎
  •  Spanish: poligloto‎, polígloto‎, polígloto‎ (masc.)
  •  Cantonese: 講多種語言‎ (gong2 do1 zung2 jyu5 jin4)
  •  Yiddish: בעל-לשון‎ (bal-lo’shn), עטלעך־שפּראַכיק‎ (etlekh-shprakhik)
  •  French: polyglotte‎
  •  Swedish: flerspråkig‎, polyglott‎

What is the origin of the word polyglot?

According to Etymonline, the word polyglot has been used since c17 and comes from the French polyglotte, the Medieval Latin polyglottus/Medieval Latin polyglōttus and Greek poluglōttos/Greek polýglōttos. It utilizes the prefix poly. This means many-tongued, from the Greek polys and Latin polus meaning many and the Greek glōtta tongue, a variant of the Greek glōssa meaning tongue. This comes from the Proto-Indo-European roots pele. 

How can the word polyglot be used in a sentence?

The Romanian and Czech fellow was a member of various linguistic groups to help him become a polyglot. He spoke a little Ancient Greek and pidgin English. He thought the Earth’s inhabitants should try to gain linguistic proficiency for the detail of the political situation and to find the wonderful warmth that comes up when you speak someone’s language.

The transcriber, Nik Furst, at Princeton University was a bilingualist who created a computer program to translate each essay in the database so anyone around the world could read the diatribes. It came out of nowhere and everyone loved it.

They lived in the polyglot region of Belgium, and therefore could speak both French, Dutch and English. The dominant culture had merged into one all its own. A similar cacophony of speakers was all around them, and they were not the only polyglot.

The polyglot actor Michel David-Weill played the role of Mr Kwasniewski in the new film Grey Falcon: Champions of New Europe. His character was a 61-year-old polyglot and black lamb who played the Middle Eastern clarinet with mellifluous sounds. In it, he meets the polyglot Pope at the White House.

Rebecca West, as one of the patrons of the academie, taught the whole class in French including the roll call and her brilliant speeches to help the kids become a polyglot cast of characters. She taught them world music in the diplomatic Warsaw and wanted them to expand their minds outside of mainstream culture. 

Marco Silvestri was a member of a polyglot orchestra where they played the European glockenspiel and the Mexican mariachi guitar. He told a story of polyglot India. In Bombay, there were misunderstandings on frequent intervals because you never knew which language someone would speak, it was all up to luck. There were rumours that they would refuse to speak English, but Marco thought this was just ignorance.

What are synonyms of the word polyglot?

There are many different words that a person can use in place of the word polyglot. These are called synonyms, which are words and phrases that have the same definition as another given word or phrase. Synonyms are a great way to expand your English language vocabulary and avoid repeating yourself. This list of synonyms for the word polyglot is provided by Power Thesaurus

  •  concordance
  •  lingual
  •  multilingual
  •  multifarious
  •  grammarian
  •  daedal
  •  decipherer
  •  distinguishable
  •  lexicologist
  •  bilingual person
  •  wordsmith
  •  all manner of
  •  encyclopedia
  •  language specialist
  •  bailey
  •  glossator
  •  critic
  •  lexicographer
  •  fluent
  •  lexicographist
  •  vocabulist
  •  multilingual person
  •  linguist
  •  philologian
  •  equivalent
  •  city directory
  •  cryptologist
  •  glossographer
  •  studbook
  •  convertible terms
  •  linguistician
  •  literal
  •  bilingual
  •  diatesseron
  •  translator
  •  reference book
  •  convertible
  •  explicator
  •  philologer
  •  glossarian
  •  trilingual
  •  dialectic
  •  phoneticist
  •  interpreter
  •  definer
  •  dissimilar
  •  glossologist
  •  diversified
  •  expositor
  •  diverse
  •  calendar
  •  modified
  •  multi-lingual
  •  glossarist
  •  biographer
  •  commentator
  •  dictionary catalog
  •  current
  •  phonologist
  •  divers
  •  linguistic scientist
  •  differing
  •  editor
  •  apposition
  •  all kinds of
  •  dictionary editor
  •  diglot
  •  dictionary writer
  •  dragoman
  •  dictionary maker
  •  literary
  •  linguists
  •  philologist
  •  classified catalog
  •  glottologist
  •  phonetician
  •  adapter
  •  exegete
  •  casebook
  •  linguistic
  •  catalogue raisonne
  •  annotator
  •  dictionarist
  •  analyst
  •  gazetteer
  •  explainer
  •  fowler
  •  equivalent meaning
  •  different
  •  directory
  •  work of reference
  •  atlas
  •  etymologist
  •  decoder
  •  exegetist
  •  delegate
  •  cryptographer
  •  cyclopedia
  •  exponent

There are also many different words that mean the opposite of polyglot. These opposite words are called antonyms. Learning antonyms is another great way to expand your English vocabulary. This list of antonyms of polyglot is provided by Power Thesaurus.

  •  monolingual person
  •  uniglot
  •  composed of a single language
  •  using one language
  •  unilinguist
  •  knowing one language
  •  containing a single language
  •  monoglot
  •  written in a single language
  •  using only one language
  •  monolinguist
  •  monolingual
  •  speaking a single language
  •  web translator
  •  knowing only one language
  •  speaking only a single language

Overall, the word polyglot means someone who speaks more than one language. This word is Greek in origin.


  1. Polyglot synonyms – 133 Words and Phrases for Polyglot | Power Thesaurus 
  2. Polyglot antonyms – 16 Opposites of Polyglot | Power Thesaurus 
  3. polyglot | Origin and meaning of polyglot | Online Etymology Dictionary 
  4. polyglot: meaning, origin, translation | Word Sense 
  5. Polyglot definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary