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[poh-luh-rahyz] /ˈpoʊ ləˌraɪz/
verb (used with object), polarized, polarizing.
to cause polarization in.
to divide into sharply opposing factions, political groups, etc.:
The controversy has polarized voters into proabortion and antiabortion groups.
to give polarity to.
verb (used without object), polarized, polarizing.
to become polarized.
Also, especially British, polarise.
Origin of polarize
First recorded in 1805-15; polar + -ize
Related forms
polarizable, adjective
polarizability, noun
depolarize, verb (used with object), depolarized, depolarizing.
nonpolarizable, adjective
nonpolarizing, adjective
repolarize, verb (used with object), repolarized, repolarizing. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for polarised
Historical Examples
  • This may be checked by an examination of the lens in polarised light.

    On Laboratory Arts Richard Threlfall
  • The current of electricity is polarised into a positive and a negative current.

    Reincarnation Th. Pascal
  • In the state of solution they did not turn the plane of polarised light.

    Louis Pasteur Ren Vallery-Radot
  • The word, and consequently the idea it represents, is polarised.

    The Nervous Child Hector Charles Cameron
  • It turns a ray of polarised light to the right, whereas carbolic acid does not affect polarisation.

  • Both sucrose, or cane sugar, and dextrose produce rotation upon a ray of polarised light.

  • When these ice-pillars were examined by means of polarised light, they were found to possess a feeble double-refracting power.

    Ice-Caves of France and Switzerland George Forrest Browne
  • But while the dissolved tartrate causes the plane of polarised light to rotate, the paratartrate exerts no such action.

    Louis Pasteur Ren Vallery-Radot
  • It is well known, that physicists are enabled at present to distinguish two kinds of light—natural light and polarised light.

  • With this instrument, it becomes possible to tell the difference between natural and polarised light.

British Dictionary definitions for polarised


to acquire or cause to acquire polarity
to acquire or cause to acquire polarization: to polarize light
to cause people to adopt extreme opposing positions: to polarize opinion
Derived Forms
polarizable, polarisable, adjective
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for polarised



1811, in optics, from French polariser, coined by French physicist Étienne-Louis Malus (1775-1812) as a term in optics, from Modern Latin polaris "polar" (see polar). Transferred sense of "to accentuate a division in a group or system" is first recorded 1949 in Arthur Koestler. Related: Polarized; polarizing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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polarised in Science
  1. To separate or accumulate positive and negative electric charges in two distinct regions. Polarized objects have an electric dipole moment and will undergo torque when placed in an external electric field.

  2. To magnetize a substance so that it has the properties of a magnetic dipole, such as having a north and south pole.

  3. To cause the electrical and magnetic fields associated with electromagnetic waves, especially light, to vibrate in a particular direction or path. The transverse electric and magnetic waves always vibrate at right angles to each other, but in ordinary unpolarized light sources, the direction of polarization of each wave is randomly distributed. Light can be polarized by reflection, and by passing through certain materials. See more at polarization.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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