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You can say e.g.:

The word "on" is a monosyllable.

but it seems that the word "multisyllable" has been outdated since 1913.

What is the correct term for a word that has two or more syllables, e.g.

"The word "beautiful" is a _________.

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"beautiful" is a... trisyllable??? –  J. Walker Jul 30 '12 at 21:50

5 Answers 5

poly is usually opposite to mono: polysyllable

beautiful is a polysyllabic word. (not sure about this usage)

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Polysyllable (or polysyllabic) is the word I have always heard of. –  kiamlaluno Aug 13 '10 at 14:43
    
Strangely, a polysyllable is a word that has "more than three syllables": onelook.com/?w=polysyllable –  Edward Tanguay Aug 13 '10 at 14:44
4  
I think there is something wrong with the quick definition on that page. I looked at the definitions and they say "more than one syllable". Besides, "more than 3 syllables" means "minimum of 4 syllables" which is nonsense. Anyway, poly always means "more than one". –  Mehper C. Palavuzlar Aug 13 '10 at 15:04
1  
@Edward. That was one definition, if you look at the other definitions on that page, there is a variety of answers, from two to four. My guess is that some associate poly with "polygon" which has at least three sides. Others associate "poly" with "many". Some have a strict definition of many as being more than a couple(2) and more than a few (sometimes referred to as 3). So poly (many) must be four. However, I don't think this linear logic can be applied in this case. Perhaps the best answer would be "poly" & "multi" are acceptable, however multi seems to have fallen out of use. –  Armstrongest Aug 13 '10 at 15:22
    
"Beautiful is a polysyllabic word." And a polysyllabic word is beautiful. –  Jay Dec 17 '11 at 5:48

I believe you would say it is a multisyllabic word.

According to WordNet, "polysyllable" means a word having more than three syllables, so it is not correct for the general case.

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right, but what is the noun for works like today and beautiful? –  Edward Tanguay Aug 13 '10 at 14:45
    
@Edward Tanguay: Not sure I understand the question. "Multisyllabic" covers the two- and three-syllable cases, if that's what you're asking. –  mmyers Aug 13 '10 at 14:50
    
4 > 1. Poly would still be correct. Interestingly, OTHER definitions on wordNet say: more than "ONE" syllable, more than "TWO" syllables... Best to look into all the definitions, instead relying on the quick definition summary. –  Armstrongest Aug 13 '10 at 15:14
    
You could always go with "disyllabic" for two-syllable words and "trisyllabic" for three-syllable ones just to be safe. Although to be fair, the spell-checker doesn't think "trisyllabic" exists... –  kitukwfyer Aug 13 '10 at 15:48

It is called "Polysyllable".

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Strangely, a polysyllable is a word that has "more than three syllables": onelook.com/?w=polysyllable –  Edward Tanguay Aug 13 '10 at 14:43
1  
I think there is something wrong with the quick definition on that page. I looked at the definitions and they say "more than one syllable". Besides, "more than 3 syllables" means "minimum of 4 syllables" which is nonsense. –  Mehper C. Palavuzlar Aug 13 '10 at 15:04
1  
Anyway, poly always means "more than one". –  Mehper C. Palavuzlar Aug 13 '10 at 15:05

"Polysyllabic" is an adjective used, e.g. for "polysyllabic humour", where, for example, instead of saying "coca cola" one says "an ebony coloured, effervescent beverage of the drinkable kind, flavoured with the frutiferous bounties of the cola plant" or something. This kind of "humour" was used by O. Henry etc. But for common usage, I have not heard the word "polysyllable" on its own and I would use "polysyllabic word" or "word with more than one syllable".

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I don't know clearly how goes in english, but the origin is commonly latin/greek so you should stick with it:

1 Syllable - Mono (one-unique) Syllable

2 Syllable - Di (Bi-Duo-two) Syllable

3 Syllable - Tri (tres-three) Syllable

4 Syllable - Tetra (cuatro-four) Syllable

5 Syllable - Penta (five) Syllable

Hexa-Hepta-Octo-Nono-Deca, etc.

More than one - Poly (many) Syllable

As in Polygamy (many couples) As in Polygon (many sides)

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I think you might need to brush up on your classics: "Syllable" is from Greek, as is "Mono" (whose Latin equivalent would be "Uni-"). The Greek number prefixes for four is "tetra" (and indeed the Latin one would be "quad(ri)-", not "cuatri-"), and is what would usually be attached to "syllable" :-) –  psmears Feb 10 '11 at 19:18
    
Sorry what a shame to be mistaken in that simple part... spanish mixed in between... no excuses. And the latin part also, I didn't remember if was latin or greek. Commonly in spanish you get both of them mixed up. –  Billeeb Apr 12 '11 at 14:22
    
in fairness there are plenty of mixed-up words in english too... television, unicycle, ... –  psmears Apr 12 '11 at 17:57
    
@psmears: I meant, in Spanish and being a Spanish native, the whole idiom is a mix of latin, greek and romance. But I get your examples! –  Billeeb Apr 12 '11 at 18:14

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