chiefly British
: a lively discussion : argument, dispute

Did you know?

Argy-bargy and its slightly older variant argle-bargle have been a part of British English since the second half of the 19th century. Argy and argle evolved in certain English and Scottish dialects as variant forms of argue. As far as we can tell, bargy and bargle never existed as independent words; they only came to life with the compounds as singsong reduplications of argy and argle. Some other colorful words that can be used for a dispute in English are squabble, contretemps, and donnybrook.

Word History


reduplication of Scots & English dialect argy, alteration of argue

First Known Use

1839, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of argy-bargy was in 1839


Dictionary Entries Near argy-bargy

Cite this Entry

“Argy-bargy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Mar. 2024.

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