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 comptrollership (audio) , ˈkäm(p)-​ˌtrō-​ , käm(p)-​ˈtrō-​ \ noun

Did You Know?

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 public contributions would be capped: $1.5 million for mayoral candidates; $375,000 for people running for City Council president; $200,000 for comptroller candidates, and $125,000 for those seeking to join the City Council. Ian Duncan,, "Baltimore City Council considers awarding up to $1.7 million in public funds to mayoral campaigns," 25 June 2019 The program allows the comptroller to collect unpaid debt, such as parking tickets, red light camera fees, municipal fines and other types of money owed, essentially acting as the East Dundee’s collection agency, according to village documents. Erin Sauder, Elgin Courier-News, "East Dundee signs on to collect unpaid fees and fines by using state comptroller's payment program," 6 June 2019 The nonprofit has received about $50 million from the child welfare agency since 2005, according to state comptroller officials. Christy Gutowski,, "DCFS says nonprofit misused taxpayer dollars, demands repayment of $100K," 5 June 2019 That means Hogan will need the support of state treasurer Nancy K. Kopp (D) or comptroller Peter Franchot (D). Washington Post, "Hogan plan to add toll lanes to Beltway, I-270 heads to state panel for key vote," 5 June 2019 In 2016, Thomas tried to return to public office but came up short in his bid to be elected city comptroller, losing 51% to 48% to the incumbent, Martin Matson. Daniel Bice, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Ex-Milwaukee County Supervisor Johnny Thomas charged with fourth-degree sexual assault, disorderly conduct," 19 June 2019 Her husband, the former comptroller for the May Co. department store, died in 2017. Frederick N. Rasmussen,, "Beryl Frank, versatile writer, dies," 5 June 2019 Emanuel then had Burke deposed as finance chair and moved the workers’ comp program to the city comptroller’s office. Mick Dumke, ProPublica, "At Chicago’s City Council, Committees Are Used to Reward Political Favors and Fund Patronage," 15 May 2019 Andrew Friedson, a former aide to state comptroller Peter Franchot, was leading that race. Jennifer Barrios, Washington Post, "Elrich and Blair neck and neck in Montgomery County executive race, but still too close to call," 26 June 2018

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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Statistics for comptroller

Last Updated

12 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for comptroller

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

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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

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More from Merriam-Webster on comptroller

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with comptroller

Spanish Central: Translation of comptroller

Nglish: Translation of comptroller for Spanish Speakers

Comments on comptroller

What made you want to look up comptroller? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


characterized by aphorism

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