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

In a session packed with high priority bills, House Bill 2020 -- the most complicated and controversial of them all -- didn’t rise to the top., "How Oregon’s climate-change bill ran out of gas," 30 June 2019 This thread will likely be important as the Enfield Haunting was a high profile case that put the Warrens on the international map and could play a key role in Judy Warren's struggle with her parents and their dangerous and controversial profession. Rosie Knight,, "Where We Left Off With The Conjuring Crew Ahead Of Annabelle Comes Home," 30 June 2019 Sanders' tenure was marked often by her adversarial relationship with the press, a relationship that reflected the views of her boss, by controversial and at times misleading claims, and by fewer and fewer briefings. Kathryn Watson, CBS News, "Sarah Sanders marks her last day at the White House, leaving job to Stephanie Grisham," 28 June 2019 At least one budget’s done: DeWine on Thursday signed into law a non-controversial $109.5 million two-year budget for the Ohio Industrial Commission, which handles appeals for workers’ compensation disputes., "Ohio lawmakers may blow past Sunday budget deadline: Capitol Letter," 28 June 2019 Ambulance diversion is controversial yet perfectly legal, at least in most states. Barbara Brody,, "'Hospital Diversion' Is Perfectly Legal and Putting People at Risk. Here's What You Need to Know," 27 June 2019 The ever-controversial Brandon Barnes (Debra Antney’s godson) is back and his ways finally catch up to him in an explosive uncovering of the truth. Jasmine Grant, Essence, "Angela Simmons Reveals Why She Split With Bow Wow," 27 June 2019 Increasing salaries for congressional staff could potentially require increasing congressional pay, an always-controversial idea. Richard Skinner, Vox, "Technology and transparency: the path to a modern Congress?," 26 June 2019 There's one trend, though, that's neither controversial nor confusing—one that everyone seems to be in agreement on. Glamour, "The Absolute Best Straw Bags to Buy for Summer," 26 June 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

3 Jul 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

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