Why was clemency trending last week?


[puh-lem-ik, poh-] /pəˈlɛm ɪk, poʊ-/
a controversial argument, as one against some opinion, doctrine, etc.
a person who argues in opposition to another; controversialist.
Also, polemical. of or relating to a polemic; controversial.
Origin of polemic
1630-40; < Greek polemikós of or for war, equivalent to pólem(os) war + -ikos -ic
Related forms
polemically, adverb
nonpolemic, noun, adjective
nonpolemical, adjective
nonpolemically, adverb
overpolemical, adjective
overpolemically, adverb
unpolemic, adjective
unpolemical, adjective
unpolemically, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for polemic
  • Not that he was short of prejudice and polemic.
  • From satire to burlesque to allegory to polemic and back to satire, breathlessly.
  • This is neither a big book, nor a tough read, nor a polemic.
  • As polemic, rather than 'history' it works far better.
  • As the polemic heats up, legislators are increasingly being drawn into the fray.
  • The Journal does not desire to engage in a polemic editorial debate.
  • But I never make work that's polemic, or that has a message.
  • Not every post with 'Iraq' in it deserves a polemic reaction.
  • Honestly my biggest problem with Wired's polemic style is how the inclusive “we” is used all the time.
  • The whole report is like this -- this roaming thinly veiled political polemic.
British Dictionary definitions for polemic


of or involving dispute or controversy
an argument or controversy, esp over a doctrine, belief, etc
a person engaged in such an argument or controversy
Derived Forms
polemically, adverb
polemicist (pəˈlɛmɪsɪst), polemist (ˈpɒlɪmɪst) noun
Word Origin
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
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Word Origin and History for polemic

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).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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