po·​lar·​ize | \ ˈpō-lə-ˌrīz How to pronounce polarize (audio) \
polarized; polarizing

Definition of polarize

transitive verb

1 : to cause to vibrate in a definite pattern polarize light waves
2 : to give physical polarity to
3 : to break up into opposing factions or groupings a campaign that polarized the electorate
4 : concentrate sense 1 recreate a cohesive rock community by polarizing … an amorphous, fragmented audience— Ellen Willis

Other Words from polarize

polarizability \ ˌpō-​lə-​ˌrī-​zə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē How to pronounce polarize (audio) \ noun

Examples of polarize in a Sentence

The war has polarized the nation. The current debate polarizes along lines of class and race.
Recent Examples on the Web Disinformation campaigns have helped polarize and politicize the issues, dividing people and preventing the potential to work together to make changes, Guterres writes. Manasee Wagh, Popular Mechanics, 5 Apr. 2022 When stuff like this is happening, society begins to polarize, which is absolutely natural. Gal Beckerman, The Atlantic, 25 Mar. 2022 That includes every possible position on gun ownership and regulation as the issue continues to polarize the nation. Carol Kim Community Voices Contributor, San Diego Union-Tribune, 16 Mar. 2022 With skill and care, Russian operatives tested and retested how best to polarize audiences. Tom Southern, Wired, 10 Mar. 2022 As a side effect, the May primary faceoff between the two remaining high-profile candidates could further polarize voters within the Republican party before potentially heading into a runoff. Rick Klein, ABC News, 8 Feb. 2022 The reason for her initial hesitation was its potential to polarize. Mike Wass, Variety, 19 Jan. 2022 Any portrayal of the late Selena Quintanilla-Pérez is destined to polarize her fans. Los Angeles Times, 15 Dec. 2021 The move may polarize some Apple fans who have gotten used to the notch, but the promise of more screen space is likely to be a change most iPhone users will enthusiastically embrace. Gordon Kelly, Forbes, 23 Dec. 2021 See More

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

First Known Use of polarize

1811, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for polarize

French polariser, from New Latin polaris polar

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Time Traveler for polarize

Time Traveler

The first known use of polarize was in 1811

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Statistics for polarize

Last Updated

2 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Polarize.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/polarize. Accessed 19 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for polarize


variants: also British polarise \ ˈpō-​lə-​ˌrīz How to pronounce polarize (audio) \
polarized also British polarised; polarizing also British polarising

Medical Definition of polarize

transitive verb

1 : to cause (as light waves) to vibrate in a definite pattern
2 : to give physical polarity to

More from Merriam-Webster on polarize

Nglish: Translation of polarize for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of polarize for Arabic Speakers


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