Simple Definition of polemic
: a strong written or spoken attack against someone else's opinions, beliefs, practices, etc.
polemics : the art or practice of using language to defend or harshly criticize something or someone
Full Definition of polemic
1 a : an aggressive attack on or refutation of the opinions or principles of another b : the art or practice of disputation or controversy —usually used in plural but singular or plural in construction
2 : an aggressive controversialist : disputant
Examples of polemic in a sentence
Her book is a fierce polemic against the inequalities in our society.
They managed to discuss the issues without resorting to polemics.
Did You Know?
When polemic was borrowed into English from French polemique in the mid-17th century, it referred (as it still can) to a type of hostile attack on someone's ideas. The word traces back to Greek polemikos, which means "warlike" or "hostile" and in turn comes from the Greek noun polemos, meaning "war." Other, considerably less common descendants of polemos in English include polemarch ("a chieftain or military commander in ancient Greece"), polemoscope (a kind of binoculars with an oblique mirror), and polemology ("the study of war").
Origin of polemic
French polémique, from Middle French, from polemique controversial, from Greek polemikos warlike, hostile, from polemos war; perhaps akin to Greek pelemizein to shake, Old English ealfelo baleful
First Known Use: 1638
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