Definitions

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

  • n. A person of great or varied learning.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A person with extraordinarily broad and comprehensive knowledge.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A person of various learning. Also polymathist.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a person of great and varied learning

Etymologies

Greek polumathēs : polu-, poly- + manthanein, math-, to learn; see mendh- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
First attested in 1624; from the Ancient Greek πολυμαθής (polumathēs, "having learnt much"), from πολύς (polus, "much") + μάθη (mathē, “learning”; from μανθάνω, manthanō “I learn”); compare opsimath, philomath, polyhistor, polymathic, polymathist, and polymathy, as well as the French polymathe. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The word "polymath" was invented for a man like Nathan Myhrvold, who earned a Ph.D. in theoretical physics by age 23, studied with Stephen Hawking, made millions as Microsoft's chief technology officer, and has lectured on topics as diverse as barbecuing and paleontology.

    ‘These Problems Can Be Solved’

  • Ireland used to call a "polymath," for he professed at one time or another, in various universities, logic, metaphysics, Greek, and finally natural history.

    Science and Morals and Other Essays

  • One of Fred Pawlicki's friends called him a "polymath," which is just a fancy way of saying he's a pretty smart guy who's done a lot of different things.

    LJWorld.com stories: News

  • I would like to contribute a few more based on my book experience over the last year about what a next generation, "polymath" analyst firm should aim for

    deal architect

  • Actually I think you will find that the word you are looking for is 'polymath'.

    Army Rumour Service

  • The word "polymath" teeters somewhere between Leo­nardo da Vinci and Stephen Fry.

    Mental multivitamin

  • I thank them because if I was not the real homeowner they just stopped someone robbing my house. polymath

    White House says Obama does not regret Gates comments

  • From my friend Henry Gee (whose highly recommended blog is The End of the Pier Show, the show in question being Henry's many lives as science editor, fiction and non-fiction book author, palaenotologist, SF supremo, polymath, father and Person Who Lives in Norfolk These Days): Ansible 240 (July 2007)

    Writing

  • The same day's paper features a story "Is this a work of art or just any old iron?" about how the writer, broadcaster, doctor and polymath Sir Jonathan Miller asked a passing scrap metal merchant to remove a rusting bath from his front garden -- only to find his three metal sculptures had also been over-enthusiastically taken.

    Media

  • Henry is a polymath: an erudite palaeontologist as well as author, editor and science-fiction buff.

    Writing

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  • "Attentive conversation is an emollient I lack sorely aboard the Prophetess & the doctor is a veritable polymath" (Mitchell, Cloud Atlas, 005.4).

    January 22, 2010