[ poh-luh-rahyz ]
See synonyms for: polarizepolarizedpolarizing on Thesaurus.com

verb (used with object),po·lar·ized, po·lar·iz·ing.
  1. to cause polarization in.

  2. to divide into sharply opposing factions, political groups, etc.: The controversy has polarized voters into proabortion and antiabortion groups.

  1. to give polarity to.

verb (used without object),po·lar·ized, po·lar·iz·ing.
  1. to become polarized.

Origin of polarize

First recorded in 1805–15; polar + -ize
  • Also especially British, po·lar·ise .

Other words from polarize

  • po·lar·iz·a·ble [poh-luh-rahy-zuh-buhl], /ˌpoʊ ləˈraɪ zə bəl/, adjective
  • po·lar·iz·a·bil·i·ty [poh-luh-rahy-zuh-bil-i-tee], /ˌpoʊ ləˌraɪ zəˈbɪl ɪ ti/, noun
  • de·po·lar·ize, verb (used with object), de·po·lar·ized, de·po·lar·iz·ing.
  • non·po·lar·iz·a·ble, adjective
  • re·po·lar·ize, verb (used with object), re·po·lar·ized, re·po·lar·iz·ing.

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use polarize in a sentence

  • The blocks certainly polarise more quickly than the old form, and it does not appear that they depolarise any more rapidly.

  • It may be said to polarise the idea, so often presented in his poetry, that doubt is a condition of the vitality of faith.

    The Browning Cyclopdia | Edward Berdoe

British Dictionary definitions for polarize



/ (ˈpəʊləˌraɪz) /

  1. to acquire or cause to acquire polarity

  2. to acquire or cause to acquire polarization: to polarize light

  1. to cause people to adopt extreme opposing positions: to polarize opinion

Derived forms of polarize

  • polarizable or 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

Scientific definitions for polarize


[ lə-rīz′ ]

  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.

  1. 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 © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.