[poh-ler-uh-zey-shuh n]
  1. a sharp division, as of a population or group, into opposing factions.
  2. Optics. a state, or the production of a state, in which rays of light or similar radiation exhibit different properties in different directions.Compare circular polarization, elliptical polarization, plane polarization.
  3. Electricity.
    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.
  4. the production or acquisition of polarity.

Origin of polarization

First recorded in 1805–15; polarize + -ation
Related formsde·po·lar·i·za·tion, nounre·po·lar·i·za·tion, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for depolarization

Historical Examples of depolarization

British Dictionary definitions for depolarization



  1. the condition of having or giving polarity
  2. 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

Word Origin and History for depolarization

1815; see de- + polarization. Related: Depolarize; depolarized.



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

depolarization in Medicine


  1. Elimination or neutralization of polarity, as in nerve cells.


  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.

depolarization 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 © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

depolarization in Culture


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


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.


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

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.