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I understand that the anode in a galvanic/voltaic cell is considered to be 'negative' while the cathode is 'positive'. However, in an electrolytic cell, the cathode is 'positive' while the anode is 'negative'. The anode is always the site of oxidation while the cathode is always the site of reduction meaning that the polarity of each electrode has nothing to do with the actual charge in which it accumulates (e.g. an anode will accumulate a positive charge due to an imbalance of cations and anions). So my question is: What exactly does the polarity of an electrode represent?


marked as duplicate by A.K., Jon Custer, andselisk, Buttonwood, Todd Minehardt Apr 24 at 22:05

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