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[poh-luh-rahyz] /ˈpoʊ ləˌraɪz/
verb (used with object), polarized, polarizing.
to cause polarization in.
to divide into sharply opposing factions, political groups, etc.:
The controversy has polarized voters into proabortion and antiabortion groups.
to give polarity to.
verb (used without object), polarized, polarizing.
to become polarized.
Also, especially British, polarise.
Origin of polarize
1805-15; polar + -ize
Related forms
polarizable, adjective
polarizability, noun
depolarize, verb (used with object), depolarized, depolarizing.
nonpolarizable, adjective
nonpolarizing, adjective
repolarize, verb (used with object), repolarized, repolarizing. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for depolarize
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • If you wanted to get the Pundit to look at his religion fairly, you must first depolarize this and all similar words for him.

    The Professor at the Breakfast Table Oliver Wendell Holmes (Sr.)
  • Between these two prisms, however, is a solution of chemicals which will depolarize the light and allow it to continue.

  • The second thing would be to depolarize every fixed religious idea in the mind by changing the word which stands for it.

    The Professor at the Breakfast Table Oliver Wendell Holmes (Sr.)
British Dictionary definitions for depolarize


to undergo or cause to undergo a loss of polarity or polarization
Derived Forms
depolarization, depolarisation, noun
depolarizer, depolariser, noun


to acquire or cause to acquire polarity
to acquire or cause to acquire polarization: to polarize light
to cause people to adopt extreme opposing positions: to polarize opinion
Derived Forms
polarizable, 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
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Word Origin and History for depolarize



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
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depolarize 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 © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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