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

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 But in recent weeks, the county comptroller’s office—against the advice of the county’s... Joseph De Avila, WSJ, "Grant Dispute Strands Some Long Islanders With Higher Tax Bills," 9 Apr. 2019 The annual accounting by the state comptroller’s office of Wall Street bonuses paid out from December through March serves as an indicator of how the financial services industry is doing. Chris Carola, The Seattle Times, "Wall Street bonuses fall over $30K despite profit upturn," 26 Mar. 2019 Less than two months later, De Blasio and city comptroller Scott Stringer began divesting from Wells Fargo. Rebecca Bengal, Vogue, "The Power of Nathan Phillips’s Song," 21 Jan. 2019 Since fiscal year 2015, the city’s Department of Homeless Services has paid more than $50 million to house homeless people at these five sites, according to records from the comptroller’s office. Katie Honan, WSJ, "Prosecutors Probe Hoteliers Paid by New York City to House Homeless," 18 Jan. 2019 During his tenure as mayor, he was accused by the comptroller’s office of paying municipal expenses from the wrong part of his budget and barred from seeking public office until 2014. Wil S. Hylton, New York Times, "Can Venezuela Be Saved?," 1 Mar. 2018 The move marked the first time the law, passed in 2010, had been enforced, a comptroller’s office spokesman said. Zak Koeske, Daily Southtown, "State legislators pounce on Harvey's pension woes to push reform," 17 Apr. 2018 Talbott plans to continue working with a comptroller to re-evaluate the model and understand whether raising the water and sewer rates would be necessary. F. Amanda Tugade,, "Franklin Park working toward $14 million road reconstruction plan: 'This is such a monumental project'," 16 Feb. 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

17 May 2019

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

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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).


a strong desire or propensity

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