Definitions

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Having, or assuming, a variety of forms, characters, or styles; as, a polymorphous author.
  • adj. Having, or occurring in, several distinct forms; -- opposed to monomorphic.
  • adj. Crystallizing in two or more different forms; polymorphic

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Having, or assuming, a variety of forms, characters, or styles.
  • adj. Having, or occurring in, several distinct forms; -- opposed to monomorphic.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Having or exhibiting many forms; characterized by polymorphism; not isomorphous or monomorphous.
  • Specifically, in zoology: Undergoing a series of marked changes during development, as most insects.
  • Varying much in appearance, form, or structure in the same species or group.
  • In botany, same as 2 .
  • In music, noting a contrapuntal composition, as a canon or a fugue, in which the themes are or may be treated in various ways, as by augmentation, diminution, inversion, etc. Also polymorphic.

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

  • adj. relating to the crystallization of a compound in two or more different forms
  • adj. having or occurring in several distinct forms
  • adj. relating to the occurrence of more than one kind of individual (independent of sexual differences) in an interbreeding population

Etymologies

From New Latin polymorphus, from Ancient Greek πολύμορφος ("multiform, manifold"), from πολύς (polus, "many, much") + μορφή ("form, shape"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • In Eros and Civilization and One Dimensional Man he promised that the overcoming of capitalism and its false consciousness will result in a society where the greatest satisfactions are sexual, of a sort that the bourgeois moralist Freud called polymorphous and infantile.

    THE CLOSING OF THE AMERICAN MIND

  • In A Home at the End of the World 1990 he followed three very different misfits from childhood to maturity, from Cleveland to New York City and then to the broken-down upstate farmhouse where they define themselves, perilously and poignantly, as a kind of polymorphous family.

    Alan Hollinghurst On Michael Cunningham: The New York Review Of Books

  • At least half of those genes are polymorphous, meaning that "they have a great potential of variation among themselves," Mr MacLeod says.

    Archive 2005-09-01

  • "polymorphous" [40] being in which all celestial powers manifested themselves in turn; a _pantheos_ who wore the crown of rays and the lunar crescent at the same time, and whose various emblems expressed an infinite multiplicity of functions.

    The Oriental Religions in Roman Paganism

  • The score is comparably ambitious and polymorphous, folding in a panoply of styles, from Bach to boogie-woogie, and finally fading away until, during the recitation of Curie's words, the instruments fall silent.

    Review: Great Noise Ensemble at the National Gallery of Art

  • The movie is more about the unapologetic display of polymorphous sexuality than whatever the plot amounts to, but any reel dropped into the middle of the latest Jennifer Aniston flick might cause a riot.

    Characters Attack

  • Human sexuality, especially male sexuality, is polymorphous, or utterly wild (far more so than animal sexuality).

    The Volokh Conspiracy » Closer and closer

  • Commercial rock, a polymorphous genre that ruled popular music for decades, has spent this one sniveling in the corner, searching for reinvention.

    Recordings: 'Ritual' from White Lies

  • Spero's guns, bombs and helicopters are polymorphous and perverse: male and female by turns.

    Nancy Spero: no pity

  • But the narrative arc of the Occupy crackdowns on both journalists and protesters reflects a much bigger back story: The political establishment understands the power of the press to foment rebellion, but it does not understand that the media are constantly adapting and growing more polymorphous, and thus harder to crush.

    Michelle Chen: In Year of Uprisings, Reporters Brave Crackdowns from Wall St. to Tahrir Square

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