polemic

noun
po·​lem·​ic | \ pə-ˈle-mik How to pronounce polemic (audio) \

Definition of polemic

1a : 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

Other Words from polemic

polemicist \ pə-​ˈle-​mə-​sist How to pronounce polemic (audio) \ noun

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").

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.
Recent Examples on the Web Such falsehoods aside, the most interesting aspect of Lavrov's polemic relates to his throwaway comments about Zelensky. Anthony D. Kauders, CNN, 5 May 2022 In her barnstorming environmental polemic Silent Spring, which celebrates its 60th anniversary this year, Rachel Carson fired a broadside against the unfettered use of chemicals by agricultural giants. Shely Aronov, Forbes, 21 Apr. 2022 His polemic appeared in the pan-African magazine Bingo, during preparations for the 1966 World Festival of Black Arts, in Dakar—a cultural début pageant for the continent’s newly independent nations. Julian Lucas, The New Yorker, 14 Apr. 2022 Many years ago, Jonathan Chait wrote a polemic in The New Republic arguing that Delaware was the worst state, for, among other things, its friendliness to corporate interest and its extremely loose regulatory standards. The Politics Of Everything, The New Republic, 27 Oct. 2021 Madonna is Susan, a scrappy downtown hustler who has gotten herself embroiled in a vague scandal involving the Atlantic City mob (a subplot treated with such indifference that the film practically becomes a polemic about narrative priorities). Alison Willmore, Vulture, 6 Dec. 2021 So his propaganda during this crisis shouldn’t shock his devoted, polemic-accustomed audience. Washington Post, 25 Feb. 2022 Reading Sebald in a German context, and knowing his criticism as well as his fiction, yields a different picture: that of an incorrigible provocateur who never let the facts get in the way of a good anti-German polemic. Harper’s Magazine , 18 Jan. 2022 This isn’t a polemic against police and prosecutors. Mark Shanahan, BostonGlobe.com, 30 Dec. 2021 See More

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.

First Known Use of polemic

1626, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for 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

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The first known use of polemic was in 1626

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Dictionary Entries Near polemic

pole mast

polemic

polemical

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Last Updated

13 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Polemic.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/polemic. Accessed 18 May. 2022.

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