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  1. a discussion, as of a public question in an assembly, involving opposing viewpoints: a debate in the Senate on farm price supports.
  2. a formal contest in which the affirmative and negative sides of a proposition are advocated by opposing speakers.
  3. deliberation; consideration.
  4. Archaic. strife; contention.
verb (used without object), de·bat·ed, de·bat·ing.
  1. to engage in argument or discussion, as in a legislative or public assembly: When we left, the men were still debating.
  2. to participate in a formal debate.
  3. to deliberate; consider: I debated with myself whether to tell them the truth or not.
  4. Obsolete. to fight; quarrel.
verb (used with object), de·bat·ed, de·bat·ing.
  1. to argue or discuss (a question, issue, or the like), as in a legislative or public assembly: They debated the matter of free will.
  2. to dispute or disagree about: The homeowners debated the value of a road on the island.
  3. to engage in formal argumentation or disputation with (another person, group, etc.): Jones will debate Smith. Harvard will debate Princeton.
  4. to deliberate upon; consider: He debated his decision in the matter.
  5. Archaic. to contend for or over.

Origin of debate

1250–1300; (v.) Middle English debaten < Old French debatre, equivalent to de- de- + batre to beat < Latin battere, earlier battuere; (noun) Middle English debat < Old French, derivative of debatre
Related formsde·bat·er, nounde·bat·ing·ly, adverbin·ter·de·bate, verb, in·ter·de·bat·ed, in·ter·de·bat·ing.non·de·bat·er, nounnon·de·bat·ing, adjectiveout·de·bate, verb (used with object), out·de·bat·ed, out·de·bat·ing.o·ver·de·bate, verb, o·ver·de·bat·ed, o·ver·de·bat··de·bate, adjectivepre·de·bate, nounpre·de·bat·er, nounre·de·bate, noun, verb, re·de·bat·ed, re·de·bat·ing.un·de·bat·ed, adjectiveun·de·bat·ing, adjectivewell-de·bat·ed, adjective

Synonyms for debate

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Synonym study

5. See argue. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for debated

Contemporary Examples of debated

Historical Examples of debated

  • "But look you here, Arthur," debated Mr. Galloway, in a tone of reasoning.

    The Channings

    Mrs. Henry Wood

  • But there is where affliction overtook me; they debated its authorship.

    The Cavalier

    George Washington Cable

  • Frank debated this question in his mind as he went back home.

  • The Sun reported this answer to his council, who debated the question, which was knotty.

    The History of Louisiana

    Le Page Du Pratz

  • The three took counsel together, on hearing this, and debated what it might be best to do.

    Barnaby Rudge

    Charles Dickens

British Dictionary definitions for debated


  1. a formal discussion, as in a legislative body, in which opposing arguments are put forward
  2. discussion or dispute
  3. the formal presentation and opposition of a specific motion, followed by a vote
  1. to discuss (a motion), esp in a formal assembly
  2. to deliberate upon (something)he debated with himself whether to go
Derived Formsdebater, noun

Word Origin for debate

C13: from Old French debatre to discuss, argue, from Latin battuere
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 debated



early 14c., "a quarrel, dispute, disagreement," from Old French debat; see debate (v.). Sense of "a formal dispute, a debating contest" is perhaps from early 15c.



late 14c., "to quarrel, dispute," also "discuss, deliberate upon the pros and cons of," from Old French debatre (13c., Modern French débattre), originally "to fight," from de- "down, completely" (see de-) + batre "to beat" (see battery). Related: Debated; debating.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper