controversial

adjective

con·​tro·​ver·​sial ˌkän-trə-ˈvər-shəl How to pronounce controversial (audio)
-ˈvər-sē-əl
1
: of, relating to, or arousing controversy
a controversial policy
a controversial film
2
: given to controversy : disputatious
a controversial temperament
The controversial biologist caused a ferment among his colleagues.
controversialism noun
controversialist noun
controversially adverb

Example Sentences

Abortion is a highly controversial subject. a decision that remains controversial He is a controversial author.
Recent Examples on the Web The decision to name the building after a Republican state senator from Oceanside who made racist comments had been controversial for decades. Los Angeles Times, 30 Jan. 2023 Using biology to understand criminal behavior has long been controversial. Michael Schulson/undark, Popular Science, 29 Jan. 2023 Eliminating the public process could be controversial, however. oregonlive, 29 Jan. 2023 Shuttering buildings is controversial, and so is choosing a replacement. Gregory Pratt, Chicago Tribune, 29 Jan. 2023 New zoning rules can be highly controversial on the local level, and changes much smaller than what MBTA Communities mandates sometimes take years to pass. Andrew Brinker, BostonGlobe.com, 26 Jan. 2023 Foreign military intervention is highly controversial in Haiti, which suffers from a long history of destabilizing foreign interference, including by the United States. Claire Parker, Washington Post, 26 Jan. 2023 But the decision to finish the film has been controversial, and the charges against Baldwin will probably complicate the production schedule. Josh Rottenberg, ajc, 19 Jan. 2023 But the decision to finish the film has been controversial, and the charges against Baldwin will probably complicate the production schedule. Josh Rottenberg, Anchorage Daily News, 19 Jan. 2023 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'controversial.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

Etymology

see controversy

First Known Use

1583, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of controversial was in 1583

Dictionary Entries Near controversial

Cite this Entry

“Controversial.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/controversial. Accessed 8 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition

controversial

adjective
con·​tro·​ver·​sial ˌkän-trə-ˈvər-shəl How to pronounce controversial (audio)
-ˈvər-sē-əl
: relating to or causing controversy
a controversial movie
controversially
adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on controversial

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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