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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 debater

Contemporary Examples of debater

Historical Examples of debater

  • And they answered him not a word, for there is no debater like the heart.

    St. Cuthbert's

    Robert E. Knowles

  • In college Parker had been class orator and a debater of power.

  • He becomes a chairman, an investigator, a committee man, and a debater.

    The Arena


  • The readiness with which he has adopted the air of a debater, shows the man of genius.

    The Young Duke

    Benjamin Disraeli

  • As a debater, where close reasoning was essential, he was an acknowledged leader.

    Hidden Treasures

    Harry A. Lewis

British Dictionary definitions for debater


  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 debater



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