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

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Other Words from polarize

polarizability \ ˌpō-​lə-​ˌrī-​zə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē How to pronounce polarizability (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 The current season of Dancing With the Stars has already had its fair share of shock, from polarizing contestants to brand new judging rules. Laura Hanrahan, Woman's Day, "Sailor Brinkley-Cook Was Sent Home on 'DWTS' After A High-Scoring Performance, and Fans are Confused," 22 Oct. 2019 Bale was absent that day and his teammates will once again have to do without their polarizing forward, who misses the game through suspension. Daniel Gallan, CNN, "Could Gareth Bale be Real Madrid's unlikely hero this season?," 2 Sep. 2019 Politics in the state of Braunschweig was more polarized than national politics. Klaus Meyer, Quartz, "How to prevent a fascist takeover: Lessons from the Nazi party’s rise to power," 17 Aug. 2019 Amy March, the youngest of the bunch, polarizes fans with her selfishness and her suitor, the very man many readers think the book’s main character, Jo, should love. Erin Blakemore, Smithsonian, "The New ‘Little Women’ May Finally Do Justice to Its Most Controversial Character," 14 Aug. 2019 They're also polarized to reduce glare and treated with a hydrophobic coating. Adrienne So, WIRED, "The Best Sunglasses for Every Outdoor Occasion," 5 July 2019 His bigger-than-life personality and swagger would give the league a natural star, if not a polarizing one. Joe Nguyen, The Denver Post, "7 quarterbacks, including 3 ex-Broncos, who could end up in the XFL following Landry Jones," 15 Aug. 2019 Reeping says this could be related to polarizing trends in gun policy-making, as generally permissive states make their laws more relaxed and restrictive states clamp down tighter and tighter in the face of rising violence. Megan Molteni, WIRED, "The Looser a State's Gun Laws, the More Mass Shootings It Has," 6 Aug. 2019 Tiny living is a polarizing topic that promises just as many dreamy pros as damning cons. Taylor Martin, House Beautiful, "What I Learned About Living In A Tiny House," 7 Nov. 2018

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.

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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

14 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Polarize.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/polarized. Accessed 21 November 2019.

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More Definitions for polarize


How to pronounce polarize (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of polarize

: to cause (people, opinions, etc.) to separate into opposing groups
physics : to cause (something, such as light waves) to vibrate in a particular pattern
physics : to cause (something) to have positive and negative charges : to give polarity to (something)


variants: also British polarise \ ˈpō-​lə-​ˌrīz How to pronounce polarise (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

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Comments on polarize

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