Difference Between Polygamy and Polygyny (With Table)

Polygamy refers to the practice of having multiple spouses simultaneously, be it wives or be it, husbands. But most people assume that polygamy is marrying multiple women by a man. Maybe because it is more common (or more acceptable!!). In this article, I will discuss the common differences between polygamy and polygyny.

Polygamy vs Polygyny

The difference between polygamy and polygyny is that polygamy is the practice of having multiple spouses simultaneously. Whereas, polygyny refers to the practice of having more than one wife simultaneously. It means polygyny is a type of polygamy marriage where a man is married to multiple wives simultaneously.

Polygamy is the practice of having multiple spouses simultaneously, be it husbands or be it, wives. The word ‘polygamy’ is derived from two Greek words- ‘polys’ which means ‘many and ‘gamos’ which means marriage. It is sometimes used to describe any type of multiple mating in a broader sense.

Polygyny is a specific type of polygamy. Polygyny is the most common type of polygamy where a man is married to more than one female simultaneously. The word ‘polygyny’ is derived from two Greek words- ‘polys’ which means many and ‘gyne’ which means wife or woman. Polygamy is accepted in many Muslim countries.

Comparison Table Between Polygamy and Polygyny

Paramètres de comparaison Polygamy Polygyny
Définition Polygamy refers to the practice of having more than one spouse, be it husband or be it, wives.Polygyny marriage refers to the practice of having more than one wife simultaneously by a man.
Dérivé de The word ‘polygamy’ is derived from two Greek words. They are ‘polys’ which means many and ‘gamos’ which means marriage.The word ‘polygyny’ is derived from two Greek words- ‘polys’ which means many and ‘gyne’ which means wife or woman.
Les types There are three types of polygamy. They are polygyny, polyandry and group marriage. Among these types, polygyny is the most popular marriage type.There are three types of polygyny. They are Sororal polygyny, non-sororal polygyny and levirate marriage.
Corrélation Not every polygamy marriage is a polygyny marriage. There are other types of polygamy marriages like polyandry marriage and group marriage.Every polygyny marriage is polygamy. Polygyny is a type of polygamy marriage where a man is married to multiple wives simultaneously.
Acceptation Not all kinds of polygamy marriage are accepted by the Quran. Quran only accepts polygyny marriage under certain circumstances and conditions.Quran allows every kind of polygyny marriage under certain circumstances and conditions.

What is Polygamy?

Polygamy is the practice of having multiple spouses simultaneously, be it husbands or be it, wives. The word ‘polygamy’ is derived from two Greek words- ‘polys’ which means ‘many and ‘gamos’ which means marriage.

Polygamy has been practised by many societies under certain circumstances and conditions. The biblical King named Solomon is said to have 300 queens. More recently, North America’s Mormon populations practised polygamy until the 1890s. After that, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints officially banned polygamy marriages.

There are mainly three types of polygamy marriage – polygyny marriage, polyandry marriage and group marriage. Polygyny marriage is the practice of having multiple wives by a man simultaneously. Polyandry marriage refers to the practice of having multiple husbands simultaneously. Group marriage is a family including multiple husbands and wives. 

There are two types of polyandry marriage- fraternal polyandry and non-fraternal polyandry. In fraternal marriage, the husbands are the brothers and belong to a common family. It is practised in some parts of Nepal, India and China. In non-fraternal polyandry, the husbands are not related and belong to different families. Non-fraternal marriage is practised in some parts of India. 

The most common polygamy marriage is the polygyny marriage. Polygamy marriage is relatively common in West African countries and some Muslim countries. Quran only accepts polygyny marriage under certain circumstances and conditions.

What is Polygyny?

Polygyny is a specific type of polygamy. Polygyny is the most common type of polygamy where a man is married to more than one female simultaneously. The word ‘polygyny’ is derived from two Greek words- ‘polys’ which means many and ‘gyne’ which means wife or woman.

Polygyny marriage is accepted in many Muslim countries and Quran allows every kind of polygyny marriage under certain circumstances and conditions. The maximum number of wives accepted in the Quran in polygyny marriage is four. Anyone who practises polygyny needs to ensure that there is equality between the wives.

Contemporary Christians do not accept polygyny marriage. In the African continent, polygyny is mostly practised. One of the main reasons for this is the existing gender gap in African countries which is a result of the slave trade. In African countries, polygyny marriages are beneficial to reproduce more sons who are valuable workers.

There are three types of polygyny. They are Sororal polygyny, non-sororal polygyny and levirate marriage. Sororal marriage is the practice of having multiple wives who are sisters. In these marriages, men are married to sisters of the same family. In non-sororal polygyny marriages, men are married to multiple wives who are not related. On the other hand, in a levirate marriage, the heir or brother of a deceased man inherits his wife.

Main Differences Between Polygamy and Polygyny

  1. polygamy is the practice of having multiple spouses simultaneously. Whereas, polygyny refers to the practice of having more than one wife simultaneously.
  2. The word ‘polygamy’ is derived from two Greek words. They are ‘polys’ which means many and ‘gamos’ which means marriage. On the other hand, The word ‘polygyny’ is derived from two Greek words- ‘polys’ which means many and ‘gyne’ which means wife or woman.
  3. There are three types of polygamy. They are polygyny, polyandry and group marriage. On the other hand, There are three types of polygyny. They are Sororal polygyny, non-sororal polygyny and levirate marriage.
  4. Not every polygamy marriage is a polygyny marriage. There are other types of polygamy marriages like polyandry marriage and group marriage. But every polygyny marriage is polygamy.
  5. Not all kinds of polygamy marriage are accepted by the Quran. Quran only accepts polygyny marriage under certain circumstances and conditions. While Quran allows every kind of polygyny marriage under certain circumstances and conditions.

Conclusion

Most of the time, people tend to believe that polygamy marriage is the practice of having multiple wives simultaneously. But it is not the same. Polygamy is the practice of having multiple spouses simultaneously, be it husbands or be it, wives. Polygyny is a specific type of polygamy. Polygyny is the most common type of polygamy where a man is married to more than one female simultaneously.

Not every polygamy marriage is a polygyny marriage. There are other types of polygamy marriages like polyandry marriage and group marriage. Polygyny is a type of polygamy marriage where a man is married to multiple wives simultaneously.

Références

  1. https://brill.com/view/journals/jmp/8/2/article-p246_6.xml
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12315486/
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