Polyamory and polygamy may sound similar, but in practice they are quite different.
Polyamory and polygamy areboth gender neutral terms. They can refer to women with multiple partners of any gender, men with multiple partners of any gender or non-binary people with partners of any gender.
Polygyny specifically refers to a man who has multiple wives. Polyandry refers to a woman who has multiple husbands.
In practice, polygamy is much more common than polyandry.
So While polyamory relates to intimate relationships of all kinds (including dating and marriage), polygamy specifically refers to marriage, as do polygamy and polyandry.
Some people practice polygamy because of their religious beliefs.
For example, some Mormons and Muslims practice polygamy, although many do not. In fact, some Muslims and Mormons opposepolygamy.
History and legality
Many countries do not allow people to have more than one legal spouse.
As such, many polygamous people do not have their marriage recognized by the state. In other words, this is a de facto marriage and not a legally sanctioned marriage.
In some countries, including countries in North Africa and the Middle East, polygamy is legal. In other countries, polygamy is illegal but not a criminal offense. In other countries, like the United States, polygamy is illegal and criminalized.
In places where polygamy is legal, it is mostly polygamy that is legal - in other words, men can have multiple wives, but women cannot have multiple husbands .