[kon-truh-vur-see; British also kuhn-trov-er-see]
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noun, plural con·tro·ver·sies.
  1. a prolonged public dispute, debate, or contention; disputation concerning a matter of opinion.
  2. contention, strife, or argument.

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.

Synonyms for controversy

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Synonym study

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

Examples from the Web for controversy

Contemporary Examples of controversy

Historical Examples of controversy

  • These stables had been a subject of controversy for some time.


    William J. Locke

  • The copies of Hearts of Controversy were lying where he had left them on the previous night.

    The Foolish Lovers

    St. John G. Ervine

  • A month after his return to London, Hearts of Controversy was published.

    The Foolish Lovers

    St. John G. Ervine

  • The origin of these turf monuments is still a matter of controversy.

    English Villages

    P. H. Ditchfield

  • The field of controversy will never be won by their molecular "Hessians."

British Dictionary definitions for controversy


noun plural -sies
  1. 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