con·​tro·​ver·​sial | \ ˌkän-trə-ˈvər-shəl How to pronounce controversial (audio) , -ˈvər-sē-əl\

Definition of controversial

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.

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Other Words from controversial

controversialism \ ˌkän-​trə-​ˈvər-​shə-​ˌli-​zəm How to pronounce controversialism (audio) , -​sē-​ə-​ˌli-​ \ noun
controversialist \ ˌkän-​trə-​ˈvər-​shə-​list How to pronounce controversialist (audio) , -​sē-​ə-​list \ noun
controversially adverb

Examples of controversial in a Sentence

Abortion is a highly controversial subject. a decision that remains controversial He is a controversial author.
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Recent Examples on the Web

People began digging into Stallman's past writings and found other controversial comments. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Richard Stallman leaves MIT after controversial remarks on rape," 17 Sep. 2019 Mr Sturzenegger’s second claim is more controversial. The Economist, "Were Mauricio Macri’s mainstream policies doomed from the start?," 14 Sep. 2019 Well, this was a little controversial in San Francisco. Chelsey Sanchez, Harper's BAZAAR, "Everything You Need to Know About Kamala Harris's Policies Before the Election," 13 Sep. 2019 Though his practices were certainly controversial in the medical community, Dr. Sebi is remembered as a wellness pioneer who encouraged Black people to regain control over their health. Jasmine Grant, Essence, "Dr. Sebi's Daughter Kelli Bowman Gives 5 Tips For Black Women To Get Healthier," 12 Sep. 2019 Whatever the reasoning, fans are absolutely losing their minds over the moment: Who knew grooming could be so controversial? Christian Allaire, Vogue, "The Internet Has Strong Feelings About The Weeknd’s New ’80s ’Stache," 10 Sep. 2019 Rebecca Makkai, who has been a finalist for both a Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award, made the controversial comments on Twitter, according to Fox News. Katherine Timpf, National Review, "Liberal Author: ‘Normal’ People Must Stop Wearing Any Kind of Red Hat Because Red Hats Are Scary," 7 Sep. 2019 Michael Owen has reignited a long-standing feud between himself and Alan Shearer on Twitter after making a string of controversial comments regarding his time at Newcastle., "Michael Owen Reignites Feud With Alan Shearer Following Damning Comments Regarding Time at Newcastle," 3 Sep. 2019 More widely known for its electric cars, Tesla bought panel installer SolarCity three years ago in a $2.6 billion deal that was highly controversial. Matt Day,, "Amazon Joins Walmart in Blaming Tesla Solar Panels for Fires," 23 Aug. 2019

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.

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First Known Use of controversial

1583, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for controversial

see controversy

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Statistics for controversial

Last Updated

9 Oct 2019

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Time Traveler for controversial

The first known use of controversial was in 1583

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English Language Learners Definition of controversial

: relating to or causing much discussion, disagreement, or argument : likely to produce controversy


con·​tro·​ver·​sial | \ ˌkän-trə-ˈvər-shəl How to pronounce controversial (audio) \

Kids Definition of controversial

: relating to or causing disagreement or argument a controversial law

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Comments on controversial

What made you want to look up controversial? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


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