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Poly- vs mono-

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  • Poly- and mono- are prefixes that often used in the English language and are sometimes confused. We will examine the definitions of poly- and mono-, where these terms came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

    Poly- means many, a lot, a large quantity. Poly- is used to mean many types of something or many of those items. Some examples of words that use the prefix poly- are polygamy, which means being married to more than husband or wife at a time, polychrome which means having many and varying colors, polydactyl which means having extra fingers or toes, and polyglot, which means someone who speaks many languages. The prefix poly- is derived from the Greek poly- which means much.

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    Mono- means one or single. Mono- is used to mean a lone or solitary type of something of one of those items. Some examples of words that use the prefix mono- are monogamy, which means being married to only one husband or one wife at a time, monochrome which means having only one color or shades of gray and black and white without another color, monodactyl which means having only one digit on each extremity as is the case with the horse, and monoglot means someone who speaks only one language. The prefix mono- is derived from the Greek mono- which means alone or single.

    Examples

    An increasing number of Americans are engaging in polyamory (also known as ethical non-monogamy), a term used to describe being romantically involved with more than one person at a time. (Men’s Health Magazine)

    The only encouraging ideological trend in the United States over the past two years has been the nation’s steady awakening to the political problems posed by monopoly power. (The Huffington Post)

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