bone of contention


noun

a subject, cause, or focal point of a dispute: The terms of the old man's will were a bone of contention to his survivors.

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Origin of bone of contention

First recorded in 1705–15
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

British Dictionary definitions for bone of contention

bone of contention

noun

the grounds or subject of a dispute
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

Idioms and Phrases with bone of contention

bone of contention

Main issue of a disagreement; something to quarrel about. For example, Grandfather's will was a bone of contention for the whole family. This expression alludes to two dogs fighting (contending) over a single bone. In slightly different guise, bone of dissension, it was used figuratively in the 16th century and took its present form in the early 1700s.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.