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See more synonyms for altercation on Thesaurus.com
  1. a heated or angry dispute; noisy argument or controversy.
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Origin of altercation

1350–1400; Middle English altercacioun < Latin altercātiōn- (stem of altercātiō). See altercate, -ion


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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

flap, brawl, run-in, argument, wrangle, fracas, tiff, blowup, quarrel, bickering, embroilment, rumble, fuss, beef, contest, controversy, go, hassle, brush, words

Examples from the Web for altercation

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • He resolved to be as prudent as possible, and avoid, as far as he could, any altercation with Haley.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

  • Heyward saw, by the manner of the scout, that altercation would be useless.

    The Last of the Mohicans

    James Fenimore Cooper

  • It was not an altercation; there was evidently nothing the least exciting in the colloquy.

  • Then the sound of the altercation overhead smote him too with alarm.

    The Coryston Family

    Mrs. Humphry Ward

  • The waiter with whom I had seen Herbert Bayliss in altercation was hurrying by me.

    Kent Knowles: Quahaug

    Joseph C. Lincoln

British Dictionary definitions for altercation


  1. an angry or heated discussion or quarrel; argument
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Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for altercation


late 14c., from Old French altercacion (12c.) and directly from Latin altercationem (nominative altercatio) "a dispute, debate, discussion," noun of action from past participle stem of altercari "to dispute (with another)," from alter "other" (see alter).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper