comp·​trol·​ler | \ kən-ˈtrō-lər How to pronounce comptroller (audio) , ˈkäm(p)-ˌtrō-, käm(p)-ˈtrō- How to pronounce comptroller (audio) \

Definition of comptroller

1 : a royal-household official who examines and supervises expenditures
2 : a public official who audits government accounts and sometimes certifies expenditures

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Other Words from comptroller

comptrollership \ kən-​ˈtrō-​lər-​ˌship How to pronounce comptroller (audio) , ˈkäm(p)-​ˌtrō-​ , käm(p)-​ˈtrō-​ \ noun

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If you think "comptroller" looks like a mistaken spelling of "controller," you're partially right. Today, "comptroller" is an established word that shares one of its meanings (sense 3) with "controller." The term did originate as a misspelling, however. Around the 15th century, Middle English speakers altered the spelling of "conterroller" (meaning "controller," from the Middle French contrerolleur) under the influence of the Middle French word compte ("account"). The resulting word, "comptroller," has attracted criticism over the years. Grammarian Henry Fowler condemned "comptroller" as "not merely archaic, but erroneous" in 1920, and a lexicographical column from 1931 agreed that "comptroller" is "erroneous and should not be accepted as correct." Nevertheless, such modern institutions as colleges and governments continue to have comptrollers. "Comptrollership" occasionally turns up as well.

Examples of comptroller in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The state comptroller, which must approve Chapter 313 agreements, said that’s difficult to assess. Dallas News, 11 June 2021 The answer stood in contrast to one offered by Scott M. Stringer, the city comptroller, who, like Ms. Wiley, has sought to appeal to the most progressive voters in New York. New York Times, 10 June 2021 Facebook page announced early Wednesday that the meeting would be shown live there, but the comptroller’s website, where the board’s agenda is posted, carried the usual Charm TV link. Emily Opilo,, 2 June 2021 In 2008 and 2011, the state comptroller, a government watchdog, warned that the site’s pathways were too narrow to accommodate so many people., 1 May 2021 Much of that money — about $209,000 since May 2003, according to the comptroller’s records — paid for about 30 speed humps around the community. Jason Garcia,, 5 Dec. 2019 The panel is chosen by the mayor, city solicitor, comptroller and City Council president. Taylor Deville,, 9 July 2021 The citywide races for mayor and comptroller and the down-ballot contest for the city council here are perfect examples. Zachary B. Wolf, CNN, 8 July 2021 Instead of having to choose just one candidate, New Yorkers can rank up to five in the primary races for mayor, comptroller, public advocate, city council members, and borough presidents. Jill Filipovic, CNN, 21 June 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'comptroller.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of comptroller

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for comptroller

Middle English, alteration of countreroller controller

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The first known use of comptroller was in the 15th century

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Dictionary Entries Near comptroller

Compton shift



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Last Updated

24 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Comptroller.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 31 Jul. 2021.

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More Definitions for comptroller



English Language Learners Definition of comptroller

: a person who is in charge of the financial accounts of a company or organization


comp·​trol·​ler | \ kən-ˈtrō-lər, ˈkämp-ˌtrō- How to pronounce comptroller (audio) \

Legal Definition of comptroller

: the head accounting officer of a company or government

More from Merriam-Webster on comptroller

Nglish: Translation of comptroller for Spanish Speakers


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