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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 classic literature ?
"Polysynthetic certainly," said Challenger, indulgently.
Among the topics are a typology of argument-determined constructions, word-class changing derivations in typological perspective, the multiple marking of syntactic function and polysynthetic nouns in Tariana, and the Australian Aboriginal word in dictionaries--a history.
Let's do it through the studies that have been developed in Nahualt, a language whose typology "remarkably polysynthetic" (87) (CASTILLO FERRERAS; DAKIN; MORENO DE LOS ARCOS, 1966, p.
For example, the Cherokee word for good-bye, [phrase omitted] (which transliterates as donadogohvi) (12) is a sentence that means "until you and I meet again." (13) The word for lawyer, [phrase omitted] (dityohihi), is a sentence that means "he argues repeatedly with purpose." (14) As Ellen Cushman writes, Sequoyan is therefore "polysynthetic," (15) which makes Sequoyah's system, in some ways, more efficient than English.
(5) For example, Old English vocabulary favors short mono- or disyllabic words, whereas the Iroquoian languages are polysynthetic, meaning that they use words composed of many different morphemes.
Zheng et al., "Polysynthetic twinned TiAl single crystals for high-temperature applications," Nature Materials, vol.
Plagioclase (10%) occurs as colorless individuals of xenoblastic and heteroblastic character, exhibiting polysynthetic twinning.
There exists a continuum between the isolating and the polysynthetic strategy which we could label 'phonomorphosyntactic' since phonological, morphological and syntactic factors play a relevant role, as regards the semantic value of the concerned sound string.
Aimed first of all at the Utkuhiksalingmiut speakers and their descendants, many of whom do not speak the language anymore, the dictionary can also be useful to students of Inuktitut and Western Canadian Arctic Inuktun, as well as to linguists interested in Aboriginal and, more generally, polysynthetic tongues.
b) Morphology: A language is considered to be complex if it is polysynthetic, and simple if it is not.
Like all Totonacan languages, Upper Necaxa can be characterized as polysynthetic and primarily head-marking in the sense of Nichols (1986).
These parallel lines are attributed to polysynthetic twin planes corresponding to the rhombohedral {1011} faces of corundum.