AskDefine | Define polemic

Dictionary Definition

polemic adj : of or involving dispute or controversy [syn: polemical]


1 a writer who argues in opposition to others (especially in theology) [syn: polemicist, polemist]
2 a controversy (especially over a belief or dogma)

User Contributed Dictionary



From polemique < sc=polytonic < sc=polytonic



  1. In the context of "usually plural": The art or practice of aggressive debate, attack on or refutation of the opinions or principles of another


  • Danish: polemik
  • Finnish: polemiikki
  • French: polemique
  • German: Polemik
  • Spanish: polémica
  • Italian: polemica


  1. Having the characteristics of a polemic.


  • Finnish: poleeminen
  • French: polemique
  • German: polemisch
  • Spanish: polémico
  • Italian: polemico

Extensive Definition

Polemics () is the practice of disputing or controverting religious, philosophical, or political matters. As such, a polemic text on a topic is often written specifically to dispute or refute a position or theory that is widely viewed to be beyond reproach. The antonym of a polemic source is an apologia.
Polemic journalism was common in continental Europe when libel laws weren't stringent. The Research Support Libraries Programme "Pamphlet and polemic: pamphlets as a guide to the controversies of the 17th-19th centuries", co-managed by the University of St. Andrews, the University of Aberdeen, and University of Wales Lampeter, collected and placed thousands of pamphlets on-line as a study of polemic rhetoric of that era. There are other meanings of the word as well. Polemic is also a branch of theology, pertaining to the history or conduct of ecclesiastical controversy.
The word is derived from the Greek word polemikos (πολεμικως) which means "warlike", "hostile". Plato uses a character named Polemarchus in his dialogue Republic as a vehicle to drive forward an ethical debate.
polemic in Danish: Polemik
polemic in German: Polemik
polemic in Spanish: Polémica
polemic in French: Polémique
polemic in Indonesian: Polemik
polemic in Italian: Polemica
polemic in Dutch: Polemiek
polemic in Norwegian: Polemikk
polemic in Polish: Polemika
polemic in Portuguese: Polémica
polemic in Romanian: Polemică
polemic in Russian: Полемика
polemic in Slovak: Polemika
polemic in Finnish: Polemiikki
polemic in Swedish: Polemik

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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