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Polygraph (author)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Portrait of French polygraph Denis Diderot (1767, Louis-Michel van Loo)

A polygraph (from Ancient Greek: πολύς, poly = "many" and γράφειν, graphein = "to write") is an author who writes in a variety of fields.[1]

In literature, the term polygraph is often applied to certain writers of antiquity such as Aristotle, Plutarch, Varro, Cicero and Pliny the Elder. Polygraphs still existed in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, but, other than writers of books for children, they have become rarer in modern times due to the specialisation of knowledge. Voltaire and Diderot are examples of modern polygraphs.

Polygraph writers[edit]

Classical Antiquity[edit]

Middle Ages[edit]

Early modern period (1500-1800)[edit]

Modern era (1800 onwards)[edit]

Other usage[edit]

The term can be used in a pejorative sense to mean a journalist who writes on many subjects but without expertise in any particular one. The composer Georg Telemann was considered, somewhat pejoratively, a polygraph by critics due to the vast number and variety of his musical compositions.


  1. ^ "Definition of polygraph | Dictionary.com". www.dictionary.com. Retrieved 2020-12-12.
  2. ^ Richard Barrie Dobson. Encyclopedia of the Middle Ages: A-J (Editions du Cerf, 2000) p. 749
  3. ^ Richard Barrie Dobson. Encyclopedia of the Middle Ages, Volume 2 (Routledge, 2000) p. 49