con·​tro·​ver·​sial ˌkän-trə-ˈvər-shəl How to pronounce controversial (audio)
: of, relating to, or arousing controversy
a controversial policy
a controversial film
: given to controversy : disputatious
a controversial temperament
The controversial biologist caused a ferment among his colleagues.
controversialism noun
controversialist 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.
Recent Examples on the Web The incident happened Wednesday during a vote on a controversial government bill to give Italy’s regions greater autonomy, according to Politico. Greg Norman, Fox News, 13 June 2024 The $390,000 cat house in Erlanger is one nonprofit’s effort to take on a complex and controversial problem: stray cats. Jolene Almendarez, The Courier-Journal, 12 June 2024 But that money is contingent on the council eventually approving that controversial project. David Garrick, San Diego Union-Tribune, 12 June 2024 Four months after Pakistan’s most controversial election in recent history, the question on everybody’s lips remains the same: How long before former Prime Minister Imran Khan is released from prison? Hasan Ali, The Christian Science Monitor, 11 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for controversial 

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

Word History


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.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition


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

More from Merriam-Webster on controversial

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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