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

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 Mark Janus, from Central Illinois, is a child support specialist at the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, according to the state comptroller’s website. Chicago Tribune Staff,, "5 things to know about Illinois state government employee Mark Janus — and his Supreme Court victory," 27 June 2018 The investigation, which began in July 2015, was prompted by a state comptroller’s report on the Netanyahu family’s households. Noga Tarnopolsky,, "Sara Netanyahu, wife of Israeli prime minister, charged with fraud over government funds for gourmet meals," 21 June 2018 Sales taxes in San Antonio total 8.25 percent, and the city has so far collected $175 million in sales taxes so far this year, according to the state comptroller’s office. Paul Takahashi, San Antonio Express-News, "How the Supreme Court ruling on online sales taxes affects Texas online shoppers," 21 June 2018 The issue of state employee perks has taken on new urgency amid a state comptroller investigation into the untold number of untaxed benefits given to public employees across the Commonwealth. Kay Lazar,, "Despite warning, MassDOT continued toll-free perk for workers, retirees," 8 June 2018 In addition to governor, the party will make endorsements for lieutenant governor, treasurer, attorney general, comptroller, secretary of the state, U.S. House and Senate. Neil Vigdor,, "Tip Sheet: What You Need To Know About The State GOP Convention," 11 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

6 Sep 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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alleviating pain or harshness

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