Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A person with broad knowledge.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. someone gifted or learned in multiple disciplines.
  • n. a universal scientist (generally in use to describe such a person when the term philosophy meant the entire summation of all scientific knowledge; i.e., generally from the ancient Greeks into the eighteenth century.)

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. One versed in various learning.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A person of great learning; one who is versed in various departments of study.

Etymologies

Latin Polyhistōr, from Greek poluistōr, very learned : polu-, poly- + histōr, learned; see weid- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Ancient Greek πολυί̈στωρ (polyhistōr, "greatly learned"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • It is a magisterial work by a polyhistor who knows how to reveal an overwhelmingly large number of viewpoints of men's behaviour as mass beings.

    Nobel Prize in Literature 1981 - Press Release

  • It is a magisterial work by a polyhistor who can disclose an overwhelmingly large number of viewpoints of men's behaviour as mass beings.

    Nobel Prize in Literature 1981 - Presentation Speech

  • There is of course a marked difference of style; instead of the learned polyhistor, the contrib -

    Dictionary of the History of Ideas

  • William Hamilton was a vast polyhistor long before he could be called a philosopher, or even thought himself one.

    Continental Monthly , Vol. 5, No. 6, June, 1864 Devoted to Literature and National Policy

  • With the continuous increase in the acquirements of scientific research, the polyhistor is becoming extinct.

    Political Parties; a Sociological Study of the Oligarchical Tendencies of Modern Democracy

  • Scheiner, and Secchi are famous as astronomers; Athanasius Kircher was a polyhistor in the best sense of the term; Hardouin, though frequently hypercritical and eccentric, was a most acute critic and in many ways far in advance of his age; Petavius was the father of the historical treatment of dogma and a leader in chronology; and the

    The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 12: Philip II-Reuss

  • As we consider distinguished talents requisite for those who are to attain distinction, even in inferior positions, it naturally follows that we think highly of those who fill with renown the place of Second in Command of an Army; and their seeming simplicity of character as compared with a polyhistor, with ready men of business, or with councillors of state, must not lead us astray as to the superior nature of their intellectual activity.

    On War — Volume 1

  • But the passage for which beyond all others we must make room, is a series of eight lines, corresponding to six in the original; and this for two reasons: First, Because Dr. Joseph Warton has deliberately asserted, that in our whole literature, "we have scarcely eight more beautiful lines than these;" and though few readers will subscribe to so sweeping a judgment, yet certainly these must be wonderful lines for a boy, which could challenge such commendation from an experienced _polyhistor_ of infinite reading.

    Biographical Essays

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