con·​tro·​ver·​sy | \ ˈkän-trə-ˌvər-sē How to pronounce controversy (audio) , British also kən-ˈträ-və-sē\
plural controversies

Definition of controversy

1 : a discussion marked especially by the expression of opposing views : dispute The decision aroused a controversy among the students.

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Examples of controversy in a Sentence

The decision aroused much controversy among the students. The new movie is a subject of controversy. There is controversy surrounding the team's decision to trade the star pitcher. The controversy is over whether he should be fired or not. A controversy arose over the new law.
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Recent Examples on the Web

This is not the first time schools have caused controversy while trying to teach difficult subject matter. Arika Herron, Indianapolis Star, "Indiana middle school cancels 'slave ship' role-play lesson after parents raise concerns," 9 Sep. 2019 But under scrutiny from employees and activists, they are being pressured to avoid controversy by picking and choosing which contracts to accept and which to abandon. Alex Karp, Twin Cities, "Alex Karp: Policy decisions should be made by elected representatives, not Silicon Valley," 9 Sep. 2019 Despite early controversies, the festival ran without a hitch, even welcoming demonstrators to the red carpet on its final day to protest against climate change. Ariston Anderson, The Hollywood Reporter, "Venice: Todd Phillips' 'Joker' Wins Golden Lion, Roman Polanski Wins Silver Lion," 7 Sep. 2019 The blue-collar comic is back in town Sept. 7 with a show benefiting the Zarlengo Foundation, which will likely avoid anything resembling controversy. John Wenzel, The Know, "Larry the Cable Guy, High Plains Festival and more Colorado comedy you need to know in September," 6 Sep. 2019 The findings are surprising given recent controversies involving facial recognition. Wired, "Poll Finds Americans Trust Police Use of Facial Recognition," 5 Sep. 2019 But a crucial factor is a president whose fleeting attention span, impatience with policy details and appetite for personal feuds and news media controversies make for a limited interest in traditional legislating and regulating. Michael Crowley, New York Times, "Trump Heads Into 2020 With No Clear Policy Agenda. But It May Not Matter.," 4 Sep. 2019 The firm furthermore faced controversy when its owner admitted to hiring people to edit the Wikipedia pages of clients to remove negative comments, which is prohibited by the site’s terms, The Sun reported. Martha Ross, The Mercury News, "Meghan Markle hires Harvey Weinstein’s crisis P.R. firm as Prince Harry defends private plane travel ‘to keep my family safe’," 3 Sep. 2019 He has always courted controversy and trafficked in insults. Susan B. Glasser, The New Yorker, "Trump’s Wacky, Angry, and Extreme August," 3 Sep. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'controversy.' 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 controversy

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for controversy

Middle English controversie, from Anglo-French, from Latin controversia, from controversus disputable, literally, turned against, from contro- (akin to contra-) + versus, past participle of vertere to turn — more at worth

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Statistics for controversy

Last Updated

12 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for controversy

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

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More Definitions for controversy



English Language Learners Definition of controversy

: argument that involves many people who strongly disagree about something : strong disagreement about something among a large group of people


con·​tro·​ver·​sy | \ ˈkän-trə-ˌvər-sē How to pronounce controversy (audio) \
plural controversies

Kids Definition of controversy

1 : argument that involves many people who strongly disagree about something dispute


con·​tro·​ver·​sy | \ ˈkän-trə-ˌvər-sē Brit also kən-ˈträ-vər-sē How to pronounce controversy (audio) \
plural controversies

Legal Definition of controversy

1 : a state of dispute or disagreement suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollarsU.S. Constitution amend. VII
2 : a civil action involving a real and immediate dispute between parties with adverse interests

Note: Article III of the U.S. Constitution gives the judiciary the power to decide cases and controversies. Article III's limitation of the judicial power to cases or controversies requires that an action brought in the federal court involve parties with standing to sue and questions that are ripe and not moot.

Other Words from controversy

controversial \ ˌkän-​trə-​ˈvər-​shəl, -​ˈvər-​sē-​əl How to pronounce controversial (audio) \ adjective

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Comments on controversy

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miscellaneous remnants or debris

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