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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).