contentious argument that is intended to establish the truth of a specific belief and the falsity of the contrary belief

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 pagesEdit


  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). britannica.com. Retrieved 2008-02-21.
  4. "Pamphlet and polemic: Pamphlets as a guide to the controversies of the 17th-19th centuries". St Andrews University Library. Archived from the original on 2008-12-07. 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.