Polygamy is an English word derived from two Greek words, polys- many and gamos – marriage. It is a broader term which includes polygyny and polyandry even the plural marriage (group marriage). This culture and tradition have been used since the early start of humans.

The practice of polygamy was accepted in the Hebrew culture, few authentic resources say that the practices were prevalent in classical China as well.   This culture was also prevalent in the North American region, west African region, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, middle east Asia and ancient Greece.

The Indian princes are known to have many wives. The kingdoms are known to make “sandhi” with each when the king of one kingdom marries the daughter of the king of another kingdom. This is the most prevalent way to make peace between the kingdom. Further, the king can marry any subject who appears to be beautiful to him in his kingdom.

The china also carries the similar history, in which the baby can have more than one mother. In which his biological mother will be his official mother and others will be his unofficial mother like “aunt”

In today’s world the polygamy is generally not preferred in Indian and many countries but in the middle east and Islamic dominant countries, this tradition is still prevalent.


Polygyny is also an English word derived from two Greek words, polys- many and gyn – women.

So only if the person is having more than one wives, then only he can be told as polygyny. It is narrower and specific in meaning in comparison to that of polygamy.


The key takeaways-

  • Polygamy is the practice of having more than spouses simultaneously. This can be a woman having multiple husband or a man having multiple wives or in case of plural marriage also.
  • Polygyny is a more specific term; this word can be used for someone who has more than one wives.
  • Polyandry is a term used to describe a woman, who has more than one husbands.
  • Fraternal Polyandry – If the husbands of a wife are the brothers from the same family then its Fraternal Polyandry
  • Non-fraternal Polyandry– If the husbands of a wife are not related to each other.
  • Plural Marriage- It is the term used when a group of husbands and wives shares each other’s wives and husbands.



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