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A polemic is a forceful argument or controversy made against one opinion, doctrine, or person.

It is one-sided and extreme, not a debate or discussion. It often occurs in disputes.

The word is derived from the Greek polemikos (πολεμικός), meaning "warlike, hostile".[1][2]


Polemic journalism was common in continental Europe, when libel laws were not as stringent.[3]

To support study of the polemics and controversies of the 17th-19th centuries, a British research project has placed thousands of pamphlets of that era online.[4]

Related pages


  1. Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary (Merriam-Webster, Springfield, MA, 2005), s.v. "polemic"
  2. American College Dictionary (Random House, New York)
  3. "polemic, or polemical literature, or polemics (rhetoric)".. Retrieved on 21 February 2008. 
  4. "Pamphlet and polemic: Pamphlets as a guide to the controversies of the 17th-19th centuries". St Andrews University Library. Retrieved 2008-02-21. 


  • Gallop, Jane (2004). Polemic: critical or uncritical (1 ed.). New York: Routledge. ISBN 0415972280
  • Hawthorn, Jeremy (1987). Propaganda, persuasion and polemic. Hodder Arnold. ISBN 0713164972
  • Lander, Jesse M. (2006). Inventing polemic: religion, print, and literary culture in early modern England. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521838541