[ dih-beyt ]
See synonyms for: debatedebateddebating on

  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.

  1. 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.

  1. to deliberate; consider: I debated with myself whether to tell them the truth or not.

  2. 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.

  1. to engage in formal argumentation or disputation with (another person, group, etc.): Jones will debate Smith. Harvard will debate Princeton.

  2. to deliberate upon; consider: He debated his decision in the matter.

  3. Archaic. to contend for or over.

Origin of debate

First recorded in 1250–1300; (for the verb) Middle English debaten, from Old French debatre, from de- de- + batre “to beat” (from Latin battere, earlier battuere ); noun derivative of the verb

Other words for debate

Other words from debate

  • de·bat·er, noun
  • de·bat·ing·ly, adverb
  • in·ter·de·bate, verb, in·ter·de·bat·ed, in·ter·de·bat·ing.
  • non·de·bat·er, noun
  • non·de·bat·ing, adjective
  • out·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·ing.
  • post·de·bate, adjective
  • pre·de·bate, noun
  • pre·de·bat·er, noun
  • re·de·bate, noun, verb, re·de·bat·ed, re·de·bat·ing.
  • un·de·bat·ed, adjective
  • un·de·bat·ing, adjective
  • well-de·bat·ed, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use debate in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for debate


/ (dɪˈbeɪt) /

  1. a formal discussion, as in a legislative body, in which opposing arguments are put forward

  2. discussion or dispute

  1. 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

Origin of debate

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

Derived forms of debate

  • debater, noun

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