comp·​trol·​ler kən-ˈtrō-lər How to pronounce comptroller (audio)
käm(p)-ˈtrō- How to pronounce comptroller (audio)
: a royal-household official who examines and supervises expenditures
: a public official who audits government accounts and sometimes certifies expenditures
kən-ˈtrō-lər-ˌship How to pronounce comptroller (audio)

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 city has also spent tens of millions of dollars on a program to treat severely mentally ill people on the streets and in the subways for nearly a decade, but its efficacy was recently questioned by the city comptroller. Dana Rubinstein, New York Times, 26 Mar. 2024 In addition to the investment, NYCB announced Joseph Otting, a former comptroller of the currency, will replace Alessandro DiNello as CEO. Krystal Hur, CNN, 7 Mar. 2024 Joseph Otting, a former comptroller of the currency, will become the bank’s CEO. Stan Choe, Fortune, 6 Mar. 2024 The bill added the secretary of state, attorney general, state comptroller, state treasurer and their employees to those who could carry guns at the capitol building as well as General Assembly employees and members of the Indiana Lobby Registration Commission. Brittany Carloni, The Indianapolis Star, 4 Mar. 2024 Moore highlighted both the record amount going to the program and a recent report from the state comptroller that showed women dropping out of the workforce amid high child-care expenses. Erin Cox, Washington Post, 17 Jan. 2024 If the comptroller gives the green light, the Northwest school district must hold a public meeting within 30 days about the whether to approve the agreement. Harrison Mantas, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 1 Mar. 2024 An audit by the city comptroller found that city was doing little to see that the program, known as intensive mobile treatment, or I.M.T., was getting results. James Barron, New York Times, 8 Feb. 2024 He was sworn in as comptroller of the currency in November 2017 and left office in March 2020. Luisa Beltran, Fortune, 8 Mar. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'comptroller.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English, alteration of countreroller controller

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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


Dictionary Entries Near comptroller

Cite this Entry

“Comptroller.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


comp·​trol·​ler kən-ˈtrō-lər How to pronounce comptroller (audio) käm(p)- How to pronounce comptroller (audio)
: a public official who examines financial accounts

Legal Definition


comp·​trol·​ler kən-ˈtrō-lər, ˈkämp-ˌtrō- How to pronounce comptroller (audio)
: the head accounting officer of a company or government

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