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Of or relating to a language such as Eskimo or Mohawk, characterized by long, morphologically complex words with a large number of affixes that express syntactic relationships and meanings usually expressed as phrases or sentences in other languages.


(ˌpɒlɪsɪnˈθɛtɪk) or


(Linguistics) denoting languages, such as Inuktitut, in which single words may express the meaning of whole phrases or clauses by virtue of multiple affixes. Compare synthetic3, analytic3, agglutinative2
polysynthesis n
ˌpolyˈsynthesism, ˌpolyˈsynthetism n
ˌpolysynˈthetically adv


(ˌpɒl i sɪnˈθɛt ɪk)

also pol`y•syn•thet′i•cal,

(of a language) characterized by the use of long words containing a large number of affixes to express syntactic relationships and meanings, as many American Indian languages. Compare analytic (def. 3), synthetic (def. 4).
[1815–1825; < Late Greek polysýnthet(os) much compounded + -ic. See poly-, synthetic]
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Adj.1.polysynthetic - forming derivative or compound words by putting together constituents each of which expresses a single definite meaning
synthetic - systematic combining of root and modifying elements into single words
References in periodicals archive ?
It can be distinguished from other type of feldspars because of its polysynthetic twinning visible in crystals.
Sometimes, this classification is enriched by adding categories of isolating and polysynthetic languages.
In fact, such descriptions are even more relevant in a polysynthetic language like Dalabon, where many words are compounds in which morphemes may often be considered to retain their intrinsic meanings.
Chapters look at topics that include: the specificational "be" and abstract "this/it," a systematic table of semantic elements, semantic primes in Amharic, semantic primes and their grammar in the polysynthetic language of East Cree, hyperpolysemy in Bunuba (Australia), the ethnogeometry of Makasai (East Timor), and the semantics of "inalienable possession" in Koromu (Papua New Guinea).
Phenocrystic plagioclase forms euhedral to subhedral tabular crystals, ranging from 1 to 12 mm long, with rectangular cross sections and polysynthetic albite twinning.
I found myself wondering if they used some new high-density polysynthetic material for the ball instead of Indian rubber (or as we called it - Native prophylactics).
According to him, "[i]n a nutshell, it combines weakly inflecting type inflectional morphology (including the tendency towards monosyllabic [Germanic] roots and lack of morphological gender and paradigm distinction) with strongly inflecting (fusional) type derivation morphology in its large Latinate lexical stratum, rather agglutinating Germanic derivational morphology, and polysynthetic aspects of compounding.
Nahuatl differs greatly from Spanish and other European languages in that it is polysynthetic (that is, it has full noun incorporation and full subject/object agreement paradigms).
Note that a classification of signed and spoken languages merely on (morphological) typological grounds (such as concatenative, agglutinating, isolating, polysynthetic, incorporating morphology), is not sufficient since nonconcatenative spoken languages do differ from nonconcatenative sign languages in a crucial way.
The word is found in both Bininj Kunwok and neighbouring Dalabon and in each of these two polysynthetic languages, the root morrdjdjanj belongs to a limited group of eligible nouns which are incorporable in the verbal complex (underlined in the following example):
This article investigates the question of word definition in a polysynthetic language, Ahtna Athabascan.