noun, plural con·tro·ver·sies.
THINK YOU’VE GOT A HANDLE ON THIS US STATE NICKNAME QUIZ?
Origin of controversy
synonym study for controversy
OTHER WORDS FROM controversypre·con·tro·ver·sy, noun, plural pre·con·tro·ver·sies.
Words nearby controversy
What does controversy mean?
A controversy is a prolonged dispute, debate, or state of contention, especially one that unfolds in public and involves a stark difference of opinion.
Controversy can refer to a specific dispute, as in The recent controversy started three weeks ago, or a general state of contention, as in Important literature usually results in controversy.
The adjective form controversial is used to describe someone or something that causes people to get upset and argue.
Example: The controversy surrounding the candidate’s past remarks has overshadowed the campaign.
Where does controversy come from?
The first records of the word controversy come from the 1300s. It comes from the Latin contrōversia, which is equivalent to contrōvers(us), meaning “turned against” or “disputed.” The term ultimately derives from the roots contrā, meaning “against” (as seen in words like contrary), and vertere, meaning “to turn” (as in the word versus).
Yes, controversies cause 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 use the word controversy when these situations 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, controversies 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 cause controversy 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.
Did you know ... ?
What are some other forms related to controversy?
- controversial (adjective)
- controversially (adverb)
What are some words that share a root or word element with controversy?
What are some words that often get used in discussing controversy?
How is controversy used in real life?
The word controversy is most often used when such a dispute happens in public and is documented (and, yes, sometimes played up) by the media.
Protesters toppled and set aflame a statue of Albert Pike in Washington. The statue, funded by the Freemasons, was the only statue of a Confederate general in the nation's capital and a longtime source of controversy. https://t.co/suvVYzA9aR
— The Associated Press (@AP) June 20, 2020
1/ I’m not weighing in on the growing controversy about the complex rules applied to developers in @Apple’s App Store. Just based on what I’ve read, I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple is forced to change some of them. But I want to make three points that people seem to forget.
— Walt Mossberg (@waltmossberg) June 17, 2020
Controversy is back in the Premier League.
It only took 41 minutes 🤣 pic.twitter.com/GcxGkVGxzt
— B/R Football (@brfootball) June 17, 2020
Try using controversy!
Which of the following words is LEAST likely to be used to describe a controversy?
Example sentences from the Web for controversy
Alexander has run into controversy in recent days for pressuring scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.The Trump administration’s politicization of coronavirus comes to a head|Aaron Blake|September 16, 2020|Washington Post
Concerns among Democrats on the committee grew after the NLRB issued an unusual report on its recusal process last November, spurred by the earlier controversy around Hy-Brand.“Cover Up”: House Democrats Subpoena Documents That NLRB Refused to Share in Ethics Investigation|by Ian MacDougall|September 15, 2020|ProPublica
The live-action epic, which has also been embroiled in controversy over its filming location, is not playing in North American theaters.The North American box office isn’t bouncing back that fast|radmarya|September 14, 2020|Fortune
The controversy it has generated since details from the book were first published this week will likely fuel more sales.Bob Woodward’s book proves Americans still want to read about Trump|Karen Ho|September 11, 2020|Quartz
The list of 2020 James Beard nominees also included the names of some chefs who have recently faced controversy and criticism, which, according to the foundation’s rules of eligibility, could disqualify them from winning.The Mess That Is the 2020 James Beard Awards, Explained|Elazar Sontag|September 11, 2020|Eater
As the controversy unfurled late Monday, it created some odd bedfellows.No. 3 Republican Admits Talking to White Supremacist Conference|Tim Mak|December 30, 2014|DAILY BEAST
“You might as well punch yourself in the face,” he says when asked if he read about any of the controversy.New ‘Late Late Show’ Host James Corden Would Like to Manage Your Expectations|Kevin Fallon|December 18, 2014|DAILY BEAST
But now, the controversy surrounding the political satire has gotten serious.Exclusive: Sony Emails Say State Department Blessed Kim Jong-Un Assassination in ‘The Interview’|William Boot|December 17, 2014|DAILY BEAST
And there is no doubt, too, that its legacy will be marred by the controversy it stirred, both on and off screen.'The Newsroom' Ended As It Began: Weird, Controversial, and Noble|Kevin Fallon|December 15, 2014|DAILY BEAST
Co-founder Missy Suicide opens up about standards of beauty, controversy, and body art.Masters of Alt Sex: SuicideGirls Hits Puberty and Wants to Invade Your TV Set|Marlow Stern|December 9, 2014|DAILY BEAST
It had been his ambition to make of his son a renowned minister who should shine in controversy, and an eloquent preacher.The Insect|Jules Michelet
The reason of this is that we are now out of the main entanglement of the Salmasius and Morus controversy.The Life of John Milton, Volume 5 (of 7), 1654-1660|David Masson
The story of the controversy belongs to later chapters of this book.A History of American Christianity|Leonard Woolsey Bacon
The parties in controversy recognized his jurisdiction, and their respective claims were submitted for adjudicature.Essays in Experimental Logic|John Dewey
But I, not being an artist, reverse the matter in controversy, and put the bright side first.