Definition of polemic
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 : an aggressive controversialist : disputant
polemicistplay \-ˈle-mə-sist\ noun
polemic was our Word of the Day on 10/08/2009. Hear the podcast!
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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 of polemic from the Web
Whether the work is a memoir or policy briefing, self-help or polemic, these authors can’t be expected to take the risks necessary to produce something great.
Libertarian organs like Reason regularly churn out polemics and studies designed to show that libertarianism is a huge new trend and the wave of the future.
However, despite its placard-like polemics and dull training sequences, there are explosive, horrifying bursts.
The documentary presents a comprehensive look at the Haitian polemic as the Caribbean nation faces its most challenging crossroads due to the immense loss of life and destruction.
A former city Water Department superintendent used his work email to distribute anti-Obama polemics, with some of his messages veering off into racially insensitive, anti-Islamic and sexist territory, documents obtained by the Tribune show.
On Sunday night, to quiet the growing polemic, Ms. Le Pen tried to place her words in the context of others who have disassociated the Vichy government from France itself.
But the polemics intensified after the Republican majority denied President Obama’s nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, a confirmation hearing ahead of last year’s presidential election.
The fact is, this is part of the media’s role: to expose anything from a public official’s incurious ignorance to his malicious misrepresentations to his polarizing polemics to his flat-out lies.
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
First Known Use: 1626See Words from the same year
POLEMIC Defined for English Language Learners
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
Seen and Heard
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