polarization

noun
po·​lar·​i·​za·​tion | \ ˌpō-lə-rə-ˈzā-shən How to pronounce polarization (audio) \
plural polarizations

Definition of polarization

1 : the action of polarizing or state of being or becoming polarized: such as
a(1) : the action or process of affecting radiation and especially light so that the vibrations of the wave assume a definite form
(2) : the state of radiation affected by this process
b : an increase in the resistance of an electrolytic cell often caused by the deposition of gas on one or both electrodes
2 : division into two sharply distinct opposites especially : a state in which the opinions, beliefs, or interests of a group or society no longer range along a continuum but become concentrated at opposing extremes political polarization … the relationship between partisan polarization and legislative gridlock is direct, with stalemate more frequent as the political center shrinks. — Sarah A. Binder The drift in our society now is not toward a grouping around the middle, but toward polarization. — Richard Todd … the venue where our most fractious … arguments over identity occur: the internet. These arguments do not play out on a democratized playing field where all identities are weighted equally; rather, they play out in a meticulously crafted environment where identities are microtargeted and polarization is amplified by algorithms. — Emma Levy

Examples of polarization in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The recent rise of Parler – as well as other social media alternatives that appeal primarily to conservatives and that got their start largely by attracting the far right – raises the specter of further political polarization through digital means. Nathan Bomey, USA TODAY, "Parler, MeWe, Gab gain momentum as conservative social media alternatives in post-Trump age," 11 Nov. 2020 Times of polarization — exactly like today, writes Renan — are when norms are most in peril. David Montgomery, Washington Post, "Trump dramatically changed the presidency. Here’s a list of the 20 most important norms he broke — and how Biden can restore them," 10 Nov. 2020 Still, at the outset, Mr. Biden’s political theory of the case struck even some of his loyal allies as misguided in an era of intense ideological polarization. Jonathan Martin, New York Times, "How Joe Biden Won the Presidency," 7 Nov. 2020 Peterson did draw national media attention by working with Cox to release a series of ads calling for civility in a time of political polarization and urging people to respect the outcome of the presidential election. Bethany Rodgers, The Salt Lake Tribune, "Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox has commanding lead in Utah governor’s race," 4 Nov. 2020 Low numbers of split-ticket ballots can be seen as a reflection of personal political polarization and the non-overlapping appeal of party platforms. David Yanofsky, Quartz, "The ways to understand US election results," 3 Nov. 2020 Gideon’s campaign may hope that the rising tide of polarization will lift her boat, too. Fred Bauer, National Review, "Sara Gideon Bets on Polarization in Her Bid to Topple Susan Collins," 2 Nov. 2020 But there is something new about the current type of polarization. Christie Aschwanden, Scientific American, "Why Hatred and 'Othering' of Political Foes Has Spiked to Extreme Levels," 29 Oct. 2020 One of the worst aspects of America’s divided politics is the polarization of something as practical as a mask. Chris Christie, WSJ, "I Should Have Worn a Mask," 21 Oct. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'polarization.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of polarization

1812, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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The first known use of polarization was in 1812

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Last Updated

20 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Polarization.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/polarization. Accessed 26 Nov. 2020.

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More Definitions for polarization

polarization

noun
po·​lar·​iza·​tion
variants: also British polarisation \ ˌpō-​lə-​rə-​ˈzā-​shən How to pronounce polarisation (audio) \

Medical Definition of polarization

: the action of polarizing or state of being or becoming polarized: as
a(1) : the action or process of affecting radiation and especially light so that the vibrations of the wave assume a definite form
(2) : the state of radiation affected by this process
b : an increase in the resistance of an electrolytic cell caused by the deposition of gas on one or both electrodes

More from Merriam-Webster on polarization

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for polarization

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about polarization

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