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[poh-ler-uh-zey-shuh n] /ˌpoʊ lər əˈzeɪ ʃən/
a sharp division, as of a population or group, into opposing factions.
Optics. a state, or the production of a state, in which rays of light or similar radiation exhibit different properties in different directions.
  1. the deposit of gases, produced during electrolysis, on the electrodes of a cell, increasing the resistance of the cell.
  2. a vector quantity indicating the electric dipole moment per unit of volume of a dielectric.
  3. the induction of polarity in a ferromagnetic substance.
the production or acquisition of polarity.
Origin of polarization
First recorded in 1805-15; polarize + -ation
Related forms
depolarization, noun
repolarization, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for polarization
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • This condition is called "polarization," and to prevent it has been the aim of all inventors.

    Electricity for Boys J. S. Zerbe
  • Explain how the fact of polarization affects the wave theory of light.

    Physics Willis Eugene Tower
  • Nature of Light; wave theory, interference, polarization, significance.

    Physics Willis Eugene Tower
  • He stepped up the polarization, his body clouded, and cooled once more.

    Captives of the Flame Samuel R. Delany
  • Its disappearance seemed to substantiate the polarization theory.

    Darkness and Dawn George Allan England
British Dictionary definitions for polarization


the condition of having or giving polarity
(physics) the process or phenomenon in which the waves of light or other electromagnetic radiation are restricted to certain directions of vibration, usually specified in terms of the electric field vector
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 polarization

1812, from polarize + -ation, and in part from French polarisation, noun of action from polariser. Figuratively from 1871; of social and political groups, "accentuation of differences," from 1945.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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polarization in Medicine

polarization po·lar·i·za·tion (pō'lər-ĭ-zā'shən)

  1. The production or condition of polarity.

  2. A process or state in which rays of light exhibit different properties in different directions, especially the state in which all the vibration takes place in one plane.

  3. The partial or complete polar separation of positive and negative electric charge in a nuclear, atomic, molecular, or chemical system.

  4. The coating of an electrode with a thick layer of hydrogen bubbles, with the result that the flow of current is weakened or arrested.

  5. The development of differences in potential between two points in living tissues, as between the inside and outside of the cell wall.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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polarization in Science
  1. A condition in which transverse waves vibrate consistently in a single plane, or along a circle or ellipse. Electromagnetic radiation such as light is composed of transverse waves and can be polarized. Certain kinds of light filters, including sunglasses that reduce glare, work by filtering out light that is polarized in one direction.

  2. The displacement of positive and negative electric charge to opposite ends of a nuclear, atomic, molecular, or chemical system, especially by subjection to an electric field. Atoms and molecules have some inherent polarization.

  3. An increased resistance to the flow of current in a voltaic cell, caused by chemical reactions at the electrodes. Polarization results in a reduction of the electric potential across the voltaic cell.

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

polarization definition

In politics, the grouping of opinions around two extremes: “As the debate continued, the union members were polarized into warring factions.”

polarization definition

The direction in which the electrical field of an electromagnetic wave points.

Note: Reflected light, such as the light that produces glare on a sunny day, is polarized so that the electrical field is parallel to the ground. Some sunglasses are designed to take advantage of this property by blocking out that particular polarization while allowing other light to come through.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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