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[poh-luh-rahyzd] /ˈpoʊ ləˌraɪzd/
of or relating to a medium that exhibits polarization.
(of an electric plug or outlet) designed so that the plug and outlet fit together in only one way.
Origin of polarized
1920-25; polarize + -ed2
Related forms
nonpolarized, adjective
unpolarized, adjective


[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.
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 polarized
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • None of them had any effect on the polarized light, either during the passage of the voltaic current or when this was shut off.

    Makers of Electricity Brother Potamian
  • Not even the Gerns had ever been able to devise a polarized detector screen.

    Space Prison Tom Godwin
  • Thus, the battery ceases to work, and is said to be "polarized."

    ABC of Electricity William Henry Meadowcroft
  • And man is polarized upwards, towards the sun and the day's activity.

  • Finally, the light of the clouds was proved not to be polarized, and the permanent composition of the atmosphere was confirmed.

    Sounding the Ocean of Air A. Lawrence Rotch
British Dictionary definitions for polarized


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 polarized



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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polarized 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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