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  1. of, relating to, or characteristic of controversy, or prolonged public dispute, debate, or contention; polemical: a controversial book.
  2. subject to controversy; debatable: a controversial decision.
  3. given to controversy; argumentative; disputatious: a controversial public figure.
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Origin of controversial

1575–85; < Late Latin contrōversiālis, equivalent to Latin contrōversi(a) controversy + -ālis -al1
Related formscon·tro·ver·sial·ism, nouncon·tro·ver·sial·ist, nouncon·tro·ver·sial·ly, adverbnon·con·tro·ver·sial, adjectivenon·con·tro·ver·sial·ly, adverbpre·con·tro·ver·sial, adjectiveun·con·tro·ver·sial, adjectiveun·con·tro·ver·sial·ly, adverb

Synonyms for controversial

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

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Word Origin and History for controversial


1580s, from Late Latin controversialis "pertaining to controversy," from Latin controversia (see controversy).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper