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

David Norquist, the current Pentagon comptroller who has been serving as acting deputy Defense secretary, is likely to be formally nominated for the deputy job later this month. Los Angeles Times, "Defense Department scrambles to fill top job as vacancies and acting appointees pile up," 16 July 2019 The mayoral election, as well as those for city attorney, comptroller, treasurer and all aldermanic districts will take place April 7. Alison Dirr, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Mayor Tom Barrett leads competitors by significant margin in campaign fundraising," 15 July 2019 Upon his nomination, Norquist, who had been acting deputy of secretary of defense, will revert back to his previous job, comptroller. NBC News, "Musical chairs at the Pentagon: Eight days, two top jobs, four people," 15 July 2019 The plans were derailed when Tom Curry, then-comptroller of the currency, said the move would be too risky, according to people with knowledge of the matter. Michelle F. Davis,, "Trump removed Wall Street’s secret shackles. Now banks are prowling for deals," 11 July 2019 The attorney general and other constitutional officers, including comptroller and treasurer, will relocate from 55 Elm St. to the State Office Building. Kenneth R. Gosselin,, "Norwalk’s Spinnaker Real Estate Partners pursue historic building, parking lots near Bushnell Park for redevelopment," 9 July 2019 The Board of Public Works — comprised of the governor, comptroller and treasurer — must approve any contracts before construction could begin. Washington Post, "Maryland will pursue toll lanes on lower part of Interstate 270 first, official says," 13 June 2019 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

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

9 Aug 2019

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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

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a period when something is suspended

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