View synonyms for controversial


[ kon-truh-vur-shuhl ]


  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.

    Synonyms: questionable, arguable

  3. given to controversy; argumentative; disputatious:

    a controversial public figure.

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Other Words From

  • contro·versial·ism noun
  • contro·versial·ist noun
  • contro·versial·ly adverb
  • noncon·tro·versial adjective
  • noncon·tro·versial·ly adverb
  • precon·tro·versial adjective
  • uncon·tro·versial adjective
  • uncon·tro·versial·ly adverb

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Word History and Origins

Origin of controversial1

First recorded in 1575–85; from Late Latin contrōversiālis; equivalent to controversy + -al 1

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Example Sentences

He was one of the controversial church’s best-known members and eventually settled near its headquarters in Clearwater, Fla.

New York Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet on Thursday rolled back a controversial standard regarding the use of racial epithets at the newspaper.

If you like your athletes docile, this is a controversial shift in temperament.

According to one adviser, he has pushed his team to produce its own videos to counter those of their opponents — including shots of Democratic lawmakers making controversial statements over the years.

Part of what made Trek’s 48-times claim so controversial was that it was—and still is—almost unheard of for helmet brands to make such specific claims about protection.

Jones is a veteran of another beloved-yet-controversial animated series on Adult Swim, The Boondocks.

That is why The Daily Beast stands with Charlie Hebdo and published their controversial covers in the wake of the attack.

While this deferred action is controversial in the United States, in Mexico, what Obama did is universally popular.

The Eighty-ninth Congress was potentially more fertile ground for the broad range of controversial programs on his dream agenda.

Zufi understands that his work can be controversial to many within his community.

He was the author of many learned theological works and controversial publications.

Joseph Blanco White, an English preacher and controversial writer, died, aged 67.

John Penry, an English controversial writer, executed for heresy against the episcopacy.

As time passed, the old question of the state debt loomed more important and more controversial than ever.

I may equally charge controversial writers with fraud, when they falsify the words or arguments of an opponent.


Related Words

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More About Controversial

What does controversial mean?

Controversial is used to describe someone or something that causes people to get upset and argue.

Controversial is the adjective form of the noun controversy, which is a prolonged dispute, debate, or state of contention, especially one that unfolds in public and involves a stark difference of opinion. Things commonly called controversial include topics, actions, and people (particularly for what they say and do).

Example: Questions about the candidate’s controversial remarks from the past prevented him from talking about his campaign.

Where does controversial come from?

The first records of controversial in English come from around the 1580s. It comes from the Latin controversialis, which is ultimately derived from the roots contrā, meaning “against” (as seen in words like contrary), and vertere, meaning “to turn” (as in the word versus).

Yes, something that’s controversial causes people to turn against each other. People say and do things all the time that cause arguments or debate (and the strife and discord that come with them), but we most often apply controversial to those things when they play out in public. There’s a reason for that: the more public something is, the more people will engage with it. And when people are involved, there’s no shortage of opinions. The formula for controversy is very simple: a lot of opinions plus a lot of passion. Topics traditionally known as controversial include religion and politics, probably because those are two areas where people are least willing to compromise. In this way, topics that are controversial can be polarizing, meaning that they divide people into very specific groups based on their very specific opinions.

People (particularly public figures) are called controversial when they do or say things that get other people worked up. (Of course, some people are controversial on purpose, especially to attract attention.)

People sometimes criticize the use of the word controversial, especially by the media, to describe something that they argue is not just contentious but plain wrong in some way, as in His remarks weren’t controversial—they were racist.

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What are some other forms related to controversial?

  • controversy (noun)
  • controversially (adverb)
  • controversialism (noun)
  • controversialist (noun)
  • uncontroversial (adjective)
  • uncontroversially (adverb)
  • noncontroversial (adjective)
  • noncontroversially (adverb)
  • precontroversial (adjective)

What are some synonyms for controversial?

What are some words that often get used in discussing controversial?


How is controversial used in real life?

Just about any topic can be controversial if people feel strongly about it and disagree. Most often the word is used when such disagreement happens in public and is documented (and, yes, sometimes played up) by the media.



Try using controversial!

Which of the following is an antonym (opposite) of controversial?

A. debatable
B. polemical
C. questionable
D. undisputed




control variablecontroversy