[kon-truh-vur-see; British also kuhn-trov-er-see]

noun, plural con·tro·ver·sies.

a prolonged public dispute, debate, or contention; disputation concerning a matter of opinion.
contention, strife, or argument.

Nearby words

  1. controlling interest,
  2. controversal,
  3. controversary,
  4. controverse,
  5. controversial,
  6. controvert,
  7. contucci, andrea,
  8. contumacious,
  9. contumacy,
  10. contumelious

Origin of controversy

1350–1400; Middle English controversie (< Anglo-French) < Latin contrōversia, equivalent to contrōvers(us) turned against, disputed (contrō-, variant of contrā against, + versus, past participle of vertere to turn) + -ia -y3

Related formspre·con·tro·ver·sy, noun, plural pre·con·tro·ver·sies.

Synonym study

2. See argument. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for controversy

British Dictionary definitions for controversy


noun plural -sies

dispute, argument, or debate, esp one concerning a matter about which there is strong disagreement and esp one carried on in public or in the press
Derived Formscontroversial (ˌkɒntrəˈvɜːʃəl), adjectivecontroversialism, nouncontroversialist, nouncontroversially, adverb

Word Origin for controversy

C14: from Latin contrōversia, from contrōversus turned in an opposite direction, from contra- + vertere to turn

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 controversy



late 14c., from Old French controversie or directly from Latin controversia, from controversus "turned in an opposite direction, disputed, turned against," from contra- "against" (see contra) + versus (see verse).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper