• synonyms


[puh-lem-iks, poh-]
noun (used with a singular verb)
  1. the art or practice of disputation or controversy: a master of polemics.
  2. the branch of theology dealing with the history or conduct of ecclesiastical disputation and controversy.
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Compare irenics.

Origin of polemics

First recorded in 1630–40; see origin at polemic, -ics


[puh-lem-ik, poh-]
  1. a controversial argument, as one against some opinion, doctrine, etc.
  2. a person who argues in opposition to another; controversialist.
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  1. Also po·lem·i·cal. of or relating to a polemic; controversial.
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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. 2018

Related Words for polemics

spat, eristic, belligerent, contrary, bicker, tiff, ruckus, scene, wrangle, hassle, go, face-off, debate, row, beef, rhubarb, scrap, fight, altercation, out

Examples from the Web for polemics

Contemporary Examples of polemics

Historical Examples of polemics

British Dictionary definitions for polemics


  1. (functioning as singular) the art or practice of dispute or argument, as in attacking or defending a doctrine or belief
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adjective Also: po'lemical
  1. of or involving dispute or controversy
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  1. an argument or controversy, esp over a doctrine, belief, etc
  2. a person engaged in such an argument or controversy
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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 polemics



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

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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).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper