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Pronounced /ˈdɪɡəmɪ/Help with pronunciation

Digamy is a second marriage after the death or divorce of a previous spouse.

World Wide Words reader Tim Russell wrote to me to wonder why this word was not more often used, since many of us are digamists without knowing that we are, and pointing out that it describes a common and entirely acceptable relationship. Perhaps those few people who have come across it believe it is just another term for bigamy (a sense the word could indeed once have had) or perhaps the ease with which the two words can be confused led to the less common one dropping out of casual use. It does appear on rare occasions in academic works.

Digamy comes directly from Latin digamia, with the same sense, which in turn derives from Greek; its first recorded appearance was in 1635. An alternative that once had the same sense is deuterogamy, though this is now equally defunct.

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Copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
Page created 12 Feb. 2005

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The English language is forever changing. New words appear; old ones fall out of use or alter their meanings. World Wide Words tries to record at least a part of this shifting wordscape by featuring new words, word histories, words in the news, and the curiosities of native English speech.

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Last modified: 12 February 2005.