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poly- +‎ -morphic



polymorphic (not comparable)

  1. Relating to polymorphism (any sense), able to have several shapes or forms.
    • 1859 November 24, Charles Darwin, “Variation under Nature”, in On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, [], London: John Murray, [], →OCLC, page 46:
      I refer to those genera which have sometimes been called "protean" or "polymorphic," in which the species present an inordinate amount of variation; and hardly two naturalists can agree which forms to rank as species and which as varieties.
    • 1897, Grant Allen, An African Millionaire
      Dr. Beddersley came -- a dapper little man, with pent-house eyebrows, and keen, small eyes, whom I suspected at sight of being Colonel Clay himself in another of his clever polymorphic embodiments.
  2. (programming, of a function) Having or relating to the ability to take multiple data types for a single parameter.
    • 1996, Rod Ellis, Data abstraction and program design:
      Polymorphic redefinition in C++ is achieved by the use of virtual functions.
    • 2012, Karel Driesen, Efficient Polymorphic Calls, page 1:
      A polymorphic call looks like a procedural call, but where a procedural call has only one possible target subroutine, a polymorphic call can result in the execution of one of several different subroutines.
  3. (chemistry) Relating to a compound that can crystallizes into two or more distinct forms (e.g. carbon, which can crystalize into coal, graphite, diamond, etc.)
    • 1916, Percy Williams Bridgman, The Velocity of Polymorphic Changes Between Solids, page 84:
      The fact that polymorphic equilibrium is not a dynamic equilibrium is significant with respect to the random distribution of velocity of temperature agitation among the molecules.



Derived terms[edit]