What does polymath mean?

Definitions for polymath
ˈpɒl iˌmæθpo·ly·math

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word polymath.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. polymathnoun

    a person of great and varied learning


  1. polymathnoun

    A person with extraordinarily broad and comprehensive knowledge.


  1. Polymath

    A polymath (Greek: πολυμαθής, romanized: polymathēs, lit. 'having learned much'; Latin: homo universalis, lit. 'universal human') is an individual whose knowledge spans a substantial number of subjects, known to draw on complex bodies of knowledge to solve specific problems. In Western Europe, the first work to use the term polymathy in its title (De Polymathia tractatio: integri operis de studiis veterum) was published in 1603 by Johann von Wowern, a Hamburg philosopher. Von Wowern defined polymathy as "knowledge of various matters, drawn from all kinds of studies ... ranging freely through all the fields of the disciplines, as far as the human mind, with unwearied industry, is able to pursue them". Von Wowern lists erudition, literature, philology, philomathy, and polyhistory as synonyms. The earliest recorded use of the term in the English language is from 1624, in the second edition of The Anatomy of Melancholy by Robert Burton; the form polymathist is slightly older, first appearing in the Diatribae upon the first part of the late History of Tithes of Richard Montagu in 1621. Use in English of the similar term polyhistor dates from the late 16th century.Polymaths include the great scholars and thinkers of the Renaissance and Enlightenment, who excelled at several fields in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and the arts. In the Italian Renaissance, the idea of the polymath was allegedly expressed by Leon Battista Alberti (1404–1472), a polymath himself, in the statement that "a man can do all things if he will". Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz has often been seen as a polymath. Al-Biruni was also a polymath. Leonardo da Vinci, Hildegard of Bingen, Rabindranath Tagore, Mikhail Lomonosov, Benjamin Franklin, Charles Sanders Peirce and Thomas Jefferson are other well known and celebrated polymaths. Embodying a basic tenet of Renaissance humanism that humans are limitless in their capacity for development, the concept led to the notion that people should embrace all knowledge and develop their capacities as fully as possible. This is expressed in the term Renaissance man, often applied to the gifted people of that age who sought to develop their abilities in all areas of accomplishment: intellectual, artistic, social, physical, and spiritual.


  1. polymath

    A polymath is a person with extensive knowledge or proficiency in various fields, often achieved through comprehensive studying or learning. They have expertise or skills in several areas of study and can often make connections between different disciplines.


  1. Polymath

    A polymath, sometimes referred to as a Renaissance man, is a person whose expertise spans a significant number of different subject areas. In less formal terms, a polymath may simply be someone who is very knowledgeable. Most ancient scientists were polymaths by today's standards. The term was first used in the seventeenth century but the related term, polyhistor, is an ancient term with similar meaning. The concept emerged from the numerous great thinkers of that era who excelled in multiple fields of the arts and science, including Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Galileo Galilei, Nicolaus Copernicus, Francis Bacon and Michael Servetus. The emergence of these thinkers was attributed to the then rising notion in Renaissance Italy expressed by one of its most accomplished representatives, Leon Battista Alberti: that "a man can do all things if he will." His concept embodied the basic tenets of Renaissance humanism, which considered humans empowered and limitless in their capacities for development, and it led to the notion that people should embrace all knowledge and develop their capacities as fully as possible. The term applies to the gifted people of the Renaissance who sought to develop skills in all areas of knowledge, in physical development, in social accomplishments, and in the arts, in contrast to the vast majority of people of that age, who were not well educated. This temporarily limited term entered the lexicon during the twentieth century and has been applied to great thinkers living before and after the Renaissance such as Su Song, Zhang Heng, Li Shizhen, Shen Kuo, Imhotep, Zhuge Liang, Aristotle, Avicenna, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Benjamin Franklin, Paul Valéry and Isaac Newton. Terms such as polyhistor, polymath or even universal genius are sometimes employed as synonyms to the term.

Editors Contribution

  1. Polymathnoun

    a person of wide knowledge or learning.

    Muntadher Saleh

    Submitted by jadezaki on March 3, 2022  

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  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of polymath in Chaldean Numerology is: 6

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of polymath in Pythagorean Numerology is: 2

Examples of polymath in a Sentence

  1. Hendrith Vanlon Smith Jr:

    At Mayflower-Plymouth, we pride ourselves on providing holistic solutions. Businesses have problems, cities have problems, society has problems… and we have solutions to those problems. And me being a polymath and the founder of the company means that polymath spirit is embedded in the company’s nature. We like to solve all kinds of problems and present all kinds of solutions across various industries.

  2. Hendrith Vanlon Smith Jr:

    Being a polymath makes me a better investor and a better CEO. Because I have multiple interests and multiple skill sets that span across various industries and topic areas, I’m often able to approach investments from a place knowing, from a place of experience and with a sense of authority. Whether it’s IP, Patents, Transportation, Music, Education or Wellness…. I’ve got some background in it so I’m able lead Mayflower-Plymouth with investing in any or all of these effectively.

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"polymath." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 2 Oct. 2023. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/polymath>.

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    difficult to describe
    • A. arbitrary
    • B. ambidextrous
    • C. elusive
    • D. ectomorphic

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