Sex, marriage, and the law. Always complicated. That’s why there are so many words to describe how two people (sometimes more) live and love together. Like polygamy.

Do you remember the 2007 arrest of Warren Jeffs, a religious leader and polygamist on charges involving multiple marriages and underage girls? The case, and polygamy, are back in the news.

The Utah Supreme Court reversed the charges against Jeffs and ordered a new trial, saying the jury received improper instructions. The legal situation revives interest not just in polygamy but in all the different types of marriage and the words that describe the multiplicity of matrimony.

Polygamy is “the practice or condition of having more than one spouse, esp. wife, at one time.” Here’s the important part: polygamy refers generally to multiple spouses or multiple marriages, not husbands or wives in particular. The opposite of polygamy is monogamy. Poly is the Greek root for “many.” Mono is “one.” Gamos is “marriage.” So these terms literally refer to “many or one marriage.” Another common gamos term is bigamy, “the crime of marrying a person while one is still legally married to someone else.” The bi- is Latin for “two.” But here’s one you may not know that complicates matters further: Digamy is what you call “a second marriage, after the death or divorce of the first husband or wife.” Di- can also mean “two” or “double.”

Is this complicated enough yet? Because there’s more nuptial nomenclature nonsense. It’s a common misconception that polygamy means one man married to multiple wives. The real term for that arrangement is polygyny, “the practice or condition of having more than one wife at one time.” Poly was defined above, and -gyny probably looks familar, from words like misogyny and gynecology: it’s the Greek gyne, “woman.”

What about a woman who has more than one husband at one time? That’s polyandry. (Andro is Greek for “man.”)

Our journey comes down to a few more words, one of which is quite controversial. amour in -amory. Tellingly, one definition of amour is “a secret love affair.” Polyamory cuts to a primal concern about love, marriage and relationships: fidelity, and its counterpart, infidelity.

Our last terms are how many people would describe with their relationships: monandry, “the practice or condition of having one husband at a time,” and monogyny, the same thing but regarding wives.

What do these words say about your relationship and the state of marriage in general?

PowerPoint Class: Orland Park Public Library, 14921 S. Ravinia Ave., will …

SouthtownStar (Chicago, IL) January 6, 2011 PowerPoint Class: Orland Park Public Library, 14921 S. Ravinia Ave., will host its Microsoft PowerPoint 2007 computer class from 7 to 8 p.m. Residents will learn how to create slide shows using Microsoft PowerPoint 2007. Typing and mouse skills are required. Information: (708) 428-5171. go to website microsoft powerpoint templates

Science Fair: Richton Park Public Library and Project Next Generation will host an open computer lab for students in second through 12th grades from 4 to 6 p.m. at the library, 4045 Sauk Trail. Students will be able to work on science fair projects. Registration is required. Information: (708) 481-5333.

Game On: Frankfort Public Library, 21119 S. Pfeiffer Road, will host its Game On gaming tournament club for students in fourth through eighth grades at 4:30 p.m. The event will feature trivia on Nintendo Wii, PC and other games. The top three scorers will win Gamestop gift cards. Registration is open to Frankfort library cardholders only. Information: (815) 534-6178. go to web site microsoft powerpoint templates

?ˆ?Holidays on Ice?ˆ™: Richton Park Public Library, 4045 Sauk Trail, will host a discussion on the book ?ˆ?Holidays on Ice?ˆ? by David Sedaris as part of its Evening Book Discussion group at 7 p.m. Registration is required. Information: (708) 481-5333.


  1. Vampyr -  August 11, 2013 - 11:10 pm

    Timotheos said that “gamos” means not marriage but mating. Is not marriage formalised mating and is mating not the purpose of marriage? For whomever to come together to create new life and raise it? Our word matrimony is about making mothers. Love and marriage are not mutually exclusive, or are sex and love. One could argue that a sexless marriage is no marriage, because without sex, we cannot produce issue, which is the point or matrimony.
    With regard to religion, from what I can gather, all religions hold marriage in high esteem so, it is obviously something of great importance to the societies, which those religions serve. Not all religions, or societies favour monogamy and marriage, existing the world over, in every culture, predates Christianity, however, Christ held it in such high esteem that He raised it to a sacrament. The one thing that all marriages had in common, I think, was that the partnerships were of opposing sexes. I am not aware of any formal poly relationships that consisted of more than one partner of both sexes, i.e. two, or more men and two, or more women.
    I have been in a poly relationship; it did not last. I’m sure that there would have been problems, had a child resulted so, it is probably a good thing. I long to find a satisfying mono sexual relationship; I think that it would be less stressful, emotionally and as long as we both remained faithful, there would be no need to visit the clinic, for fear of acquiring some sexually transmitted infection.
    Relationships come in many forms, however, not all relationships are marriages, many people are happier not being married. Happiness is what we deserve and as long as what makes us happy is not evil, detrimental to others, or forces others to change, in order to satisfy only ourselves, we should embrace that happiness, when we find it.
    I’m not sure what “And as for any filthy pedophile scum who uses religion as a cover for his vile activities, I have much more respect for Adolf Hitler!” was about. Surely, if one is abhorred by paedophilia, it matters not how it is covered. From what I have learnt, paedophiles will find themselves jobs, or in situations that allow them to be alone with children. Personally, I would describe an actively paedophilic priest as evil. More respect for Adolf Hitler?

  2. scratchPad -  January 7, 2013 - 2:07 pm

    Thank you, Stefan for pointing out that these polygamous relationships have been sanctioned by all big religions.

    Many a Bible-thumper would do well to actually read the tome.


  3. stefan -  November 21, 2010 - 6:06 am

    polygamy was also supported by all major religions. it was never considered illegal or sin. here are the references of the verses from different religions below:

    (5) Permission for Multiple Spouses (Wives/Husbands):- Ramayana: 2:8:12, Dasaratha; Mahabharata: Draupadi, Krishna; //BIBLE: 3Kings 11:3; 2Kings (2Samuel) 5:13; 2Chronicles 11:21; Exodus 21:10; Deuteronomy 21:15; //QURAN: 4:3.

    for complete text of these verses, please refer the following blog:


1 2

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked (required):

Related articles

Back to Top