[puh-lem-ik, poh-]


a controversial argument, as one against some opinion, doctrine, etc.
a person who argues in opposition to another; controversialist.


Also po·lem·i·cal. of or relating to a polemic; controversial.

Origin of polemic

1630–40; < Greek polemikós of or for war, equivalent to pólem(os) war + -ikos -ic
Related formspo·lem·i·cal·ly, adverbnon·po·lem·ic, noun, adjectivenon·po·lem·i·cal, adjectivenon·po·lem·i·cal·ly, adverbo·ver·po·lem·i·cal, adjectiveo·ver·po·lem·i·cal·ly, adverbun·po·lem·ic, adjectiveun·po·lem·i·cal, adjectiveun·po·lem·i·cal·ly, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

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British Dictionary definitions for polemic


adjective Also: po'lemical

of or involving dispute or controversy


an argument or controversy, esp over a doctrine, belief, etc
a person engaged in such an argument or controversy
Derived Formspolemically, adverbpolemicist (pəˈlɛmɪsɪst) or polemist (ˈpɒlɪmɪst), noun

Word Origin for polemic

C17: from Medieval Latin polemicus, from Greek polemikos relating to war, from polemos war
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 polemic

1630s, "controversial argument or discussion," from French polémique (16c./17c.), noun use of adjective meaning "disputatious, controversial" (see polemic (adj.)).


1640s, from French polémique (from Middle French polemique) "disputatious, controversial," or directly from Greek polemikos "of war, warlike, belligerent; skilled in war, fit for service; like an enemy, stirring up hostility," from polemos "war," of unknown origin. Related: Polemical (1630s).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper