polemic

play
noun po·lem·ic \pə-ˈle-mik\

Definition of polemic

  1. 1a :  an aggressive attack on or refutation of the opinions or principles of anotherb :  the art or practice of disputation or controversy —usually used in plural but singular or plural in construction

  2. 2 :  an aggressive controversialist :  disputant

polemicist

play \-ˈle-mə-sist\ noun

polemic was our Word of the Day on 10/08/2009. Hear the podcast!

Examples of polemic in a Sentence

  1. Her book is a fierce polemic against the inequalities in our society.

  2. They managed to discuss the issues without resorting to polemics.

Recent Examples of polemic from the Web

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

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 and Etymology 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


POLEMIC Defined for English Language Learners

polemic

play
noun

Definition of polemic for English Language Learners

  • : 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



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