comp·​trol·​ler | \kən-ˈtrō-lər, ˈkäm(p)-ˌtrō-, käm(p)-ˈtrō- \

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 , 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

Among them are Stefan Mychajliw, currently the Erie County comptroller, along with Rob Ortt, a New York state senator who served in Afghanistan in 2008, according to a Republican familiar with the matter. Kristina Peterson, WSJ, "GOP Rep. Chris Collins Suspends Re-Election Campaign," 11 Aug. 2018 New York City’s comptroller, Scott Stringer, is a divestment hawk who is calling for the city’s pensions to be out of fossil fuels within five years., "New York City, Albany Part Ways on Divesting Fossil-Fuel Stocks," 27 Feb. 2018 Former comptroller and mayoral candidate John Liu is officially announcing his run for state Senate against Tony Avella on Friday, spurred on by activist groups who hustled to get him on the ballot just days before the deadline. Katie Honan, WSJ, "Former New York City Comptroller to Take On State Senator for Queens Seat," 13 July 2018 Republican Mark Greenberg is staying in the state comptroller’s race. Daniela Altimari,, "Mark Greenberg Stays in Comptroller Race; Won't Run for Congress," 19 Apr. 2018 Since becoming comptroller in 2015, Heger has asked the Legislature to allow a new investment strategy for the Economic Stabilization Fund, known as the rainy day fund. Peggy Fikac, San Antonio Express-News, "Facing big budget challenges, lawmakers hear pitch to more aggressively invest rainy day fund," 20 Mar. 2018 The comptroller, who oversees most large U.S. banks and hundreds of small banks, is reviewing the rules that enforce the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act, which was designed to encourage banks to serve customers of all income levels. Ryan Tracy, WSJ, "Banking Regulator Seeks to Walk Back Comments on Discrimination," 14 June 2018 The New York City comptroller, responsible for that city’s public employee pension funds, also has thrown down the gauntlet on the issue, and in September called on 151 U.S. companies to disclose the race, gender and skills of their directors. Alexia Elejalde-ruiz,, "More women are landing seats on Illinois' corporate boards, but pace of change is 'glacial'," 24 May 2018 Delegates will endorse a slate of candidates for top offices, including governor, lieutenant governor, treasurer, comptroller, secretary of the state and attorney general, as well as U.S. Senate. Daniela Altimari,, "5 Questions That Will Be Answered At Connecticut Democrats' Nominating Convention," 18 May 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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Last Updated

15 Nov 2018

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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- \

Legal Definition of comptroller 

: the head accounting officer of a company or government

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something that serves to warn or remind

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