See more synonyms for polarize 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.
  3. to give polarity to.
verb (used without object), po·lar·ized, po·lar·iz·ing.
  1. to become polarized.
Also especially British, po·lar·ise.

Origin of polarize

First recorded in 1805–15; polar + -ize
Related formspo·lar·iz·a·ble, adjectivepo·lar·iz·a·bil·i·ty, nounde·po·lar·ize, verb (used with object), de·po·lar·ized, de·po·lar·iz·ing.non·po·lar·iz·a·ble, adjectivenon·po·lar·iz·ing, adjectivere·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. 2018

Related Words for polarize

separate, part, isolate, sever, partition, demarcate, abscind, split, sequester

Examples from the Web for polarize

Contemporary Examples of polarize

Historical Examples of polarize

British Dictionary definitions for polarize



  1. to acquire or cause to acquire polarity
  2. to acquire or cause to acquire polarizationto polarize light
  3. to cause people to adopt extreme opposing positionsto polarize opinion
Derived Formspolarizable 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

Word Origin and History for polarize

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

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