Definition of polarize in US English:



  • 1Physics
    with object Restrict the vibrations of (a transverse wave, especially light) wholly or partially to one direction.

    ‘a polarizing microscope’
    • ‘Bile must be centrifuged and examined under polarizing or light microscopy for detection of precipitates.’
    • ‘We used the EOM and quarter-wave plate combination to rotate the polarization direction of the linearly polarized laser light.’
    • ‘The first step is creating light that is polarized, or whose electric field vibrates in only one of two directions, horizontal or vertical.’
    • ‘Even though the sun itself produces fully depolarized light, partially linearly polarized light is abundant in natural scenes.’
    • ‘A polarization converter polarizes an incident light beam having a first component with a first plane of polarization and a second component with a second plane of polarization orthogonal to the first plane.’
  • 2Physics
    with object Cause (something) to acquire polarity.

    ‘the electrode is polarized in aqueous solution’
    • ‘The S atom in this side chain also helps polarize the C-H bond more than other methyl C-H bonds.’
    • ‘By polarizing the cells, ions are removed from the electrolyte and are held in the electric double layers formed at the carbon aerogel surfaces of the electrodes.’
    • ‘Whenever a gas gets sufficiently cold, ions attract a crowd by polarizing surrounding atoms - inducing a charge asymmetry in them - which draws them near.’
    • ‘In their experiments, they polarise individual photons in opposite orientations to represent the zeros and ones of a digital number.’
    • ‘Next, we polarized mitochondria with succinate in the presence of rotenone to examine the effects of proton pumping on the transient depolarizations.’
  • 3Divide or cause to divide into two sharply contrasting groups or sets of opinions or beliefs.

    no object ‘the cultural sphere has polarized into two competing ideological positions’
    with object ‘Vietnam polarized political opinion’
    • ‘You will find opinions as polarised here as anywhere in the world, if not more so.’
    • ‘The two sides remain sharply polarised, and periodic attempts to bridge the wide gulf between them have fizzled out.’
    • ‘It saddens me that the political climate in the country has become so polarized, so divided, that it is literally tearing families and lifelong friends apart.’
    • ‘I have been observing this debate from arms length, since I found it quickly polarized into into totalizing positions that, between them, dominated the media's coverage.’
    • ‘And that's certainly been a frustration that we've often had that is very difficult to talk about the adverse health effects of this drug in a climate where opinion is so highly polarised.’
    • ‘A proposal in 1978 to erect a statue in Perth to honour the Aboriginal leader Yagan polarised local historical opinion.’
    • ‘Throughout Europe, opinion was polarizing on religious grounds: England's role as a Protestant champion was central.’
    • ‘It needed courage to raise such sensitive issues at a time when the political spectrum was so sharply polarised.’
    • ‘Opinion on this issue is as divided and polarized as the position papers that comprise the prescription privilege debate.’
    • ‘Media coverage of the culture wars makes it look as if the nation is becoming increasingly polarised but public opinion surveys show little change.’
    • ‘Analysts brushed aside on Friday fears that political parties would be polarized into Islamic and nationalist groupings in their struggle for power in the 2004 election.’
    • ‘Subtlety and particularity are lost; the public becomes conflated with the political, and, as a consequence, issues become polarized into mutually exclusive ideologies.’
    • ‘For the first time since the Vietnam War, foreign and security policy, not the usual menu of bread-and-butter issues, is polarizing U.S. public opinion.’
    • ‘In fact, the Bristol parents were divided, and increasingly polarised in the course of the inquiry.’
    • ‘Political life became sharply polarised between the left, dominated ideologically if not numerically by the Stalinists, and the right, dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood.’
    • ‘In the end opinion polarized on a range of issues and the two groups went their separate ways in what became known as the ‘Great Schism’.’
    • ‘This force was all the more polarizing since, in contrast to neighboring countries, Colombia was not involved in any prolonged outside war.’
    • ‘The debate quickly polarized into MFA and non-MFA camps without moving beyond the initial disagreement.’
    • ‘Having to make tough choices after an attack on American soil in a world that was already becoming polarized into pro and anti-American camps isn't a task I'd envy of anybody.’
    • ‘Finally, the various factions within the Lords which polarized into the Whigs and Tories, beginning in the 1670s, forms the final subject of this study.’