A multilinguist is one who speaks or knows many languages.

A polyglot is one who speaks or knows many languages

What is the difference between a multilingual , multlinguist and a polyglot? can we call all multilinguals polyglots?

Here are the two links.



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    On ELU, reasonably accessible supporting references, linked and attributed, are expected to accompany questions. Have two or three respectable dictionaries no usage notes say on possible differences? Do denotations seem to overlap to a large degree? – Edwin Ashworth Oct 13 at 10:41
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    Nothing. It's called synonymy. – Lordology Oct 13 at 11:41
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    Are you asking about multilinguist or multilingual? Or both? In comparing them to polyglot, it seems a bit strange to provide identical definitions and then ask if they're different. – nnnnnn Oct 13 at 11:46

The Google ngram viewer shows that multilingual only appeared about 1940 and has gradually overtaken the older polyglot.

I suspect that because the latinate word was more closely related to English words, it was more acceptable to the post-war generation from non-upper class backgrounds that was receiving higher education for the first time. As well as perhaps not knowing what glot meant (lacking Greek, like me) they probably felt it sounded somewhat unpleasant — an aural association with glob and clot.


Latin multi = Greek poly = English many

Latin lingua = Greek glotta = English tongue

The difference in English usage is that "multilingual" is an adjective, while "polyglot" can be an adjective, but more commonly it is a noun.

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    The noun 'multilingual' also exists, and OP is obviously looking for differences in meaning. – Edwin Ashworth Oct 13 at 10:39
  • @EdwinAshworth. Are you saying that "difference in usage" is not the same as "difference in meaning"? – fdb Oct 13 at 13:10
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    @fdb He's right. It can be different. – Lordology Oct 13 at 13:58
  • I think all multilinguals are not polyglots.Difference in usage is different from meaning.I am expecting a better answer. – Englishmonger Oct 13 at 13:59

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