Word of the Day

: June 23, 2024


noun puh-LEM-ik

What It Means

A polemic is a strong written or spoken attack against someone else’s opinions, beliefs, practices, etc.

// Her book is a fierce polemic against societal inequalities.

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polemic in Context

“That winter of 1774-1775 could be considered the nadir of the entire American patriot movement. After the closing of the First Continental Congress, North Americans ‘turned upon one another as never before.’ The colonists had never had a single view of Britain or how to respond to the measures it was trying to impose on the American colonies. … Strong polemics against further resistance to the British government spouted from printing presses across the colonies.” — Nathan Perl-Rosenthal, The Age of Revolutions, 2024

Did You Know?

Diatribe, jeremiad, philippic … the English language sure has a lot of formal words for the things we say or write when we are—to use a decidedly less formal term—big mad. We will refrain from going on a tirade about it, however, especially since it’s good to have options with subtle differences in tone and meaning. Polemic, which traces back ultimately to the Greek word for war, polemos, is the word you want to refer specifically to an aggressive attack on someone’s ideas or principles. Someone who is cheesed off because they don’t like cheese, for example, wouldn’t write a polemic about it. A turophile upset about the gustatory philosophy behind their local cheesemonger’s recent offerings just might.

Test Your Vocabulary

Rearrange the letters to form a noun referring to a ranting piece of writing: EDERSC



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