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polarize (v.)

1811, "develop polarization in," 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 recorded from 1949 in Arthur Koestler. Related: Polarized; polarizing.

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Definitions of polarize from WordNet

polarize (v.)
cause to vibrate in a definite pattern;
polarize light waves
Synonyms: polarise
polarize (v.)
cause to concentrate about two conflicting or contrasting positions;
Synonyms: polarise
polarize (v.)
become polarized in a conflict or contrasting situation;
Synonyms: polarise
From wordnet.princeton.edu