Biology Prefixes and Suffixes: poly-

Polygraph Test
A polygraph records changes in a number of physiological processes, as a series of questions are asked by an examiner. As well as measuring heart rate with these pulse meters, blood pressure and respiration rate are also measured. Credit: TEK IMAGE/Science Photo Library/Getty Images

Biology Prefixes and Suffixes: poly-


The prefix (poly-) means many, much or multiple. It also refers to having an excessive number or abnormal amount of something.


Polyalcohol (poly-alcohol) - an alcohol with many hydroxyl groups.

Polyandry (poly-andry) - a type of marriage in which one woman is married to multiple men.

Polydactyl (poly-dactyl) - having an excessive number of digits on the hands or feet.

Polygamy (poly-gamy) - having more than one spouse.

Polygenesis (poly-genesis) - development from more than one source.

Polygenic (poly-genic) - referring to the inheritance of traits that are controlled by multiple genes.

Polyglot (poly-glot) - having a command of many languages.

Polygon (poly-gon) - a closed plane figure with many straight sides.

Polygram (poly-gram) - a figure with many lines.

Polygraph (poly-graph) - a machine that records multiple physiological processes and is used as a means to detect deceptive responses to questions; lie detector.

Polygyny (poly-gyn-y) - a male with more than one wife at a time. It also describes males in the animal kingdom that mate with multiple females during a breeding season.

Polymer (poly-mer) - various biological compounds that consist of many smaller identical molecules linked together.

Polymorphic (poly-morphic) - having the ability to exist in multiple forms, such as a gene with several alleles.

Polynuclear (poly-nuclear) - pertaining to cells with two or more nuclei.

Polynucleotide (poly-nucleotide) - biological polymer consisting of many nucleotides linked together. Polynucleotides form the sugar-phosphate backbone of both DNA and RNA.

Polyomavirus (poly-oma-virus) - a genus of viruses that cause cancer in animals.

Polypeptide (poly-peptide) - a chain of many amino acids joined together by peptide bonds. One or more polypeptide chains form a protein.

Polyphagia (poly-phagia) - pertains to excessive hunger leading to excessive over eating.

Polyploid (poly-ploid) - having one or more extra sets of chromosomes or more than twice the haploid number.

Polysaccharide (poly-saccharide) - a complex carbohydrate consisting of many monosaccharides linked together. Examples include starch, cellulose and glycogen.

Polysome (poly-some) - many ribosomes attached to a messenger RNA molecule during protein synthesis.