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 Snoop Dogg wasn't the only celebrity to comment on the controversy this weekend. Morgan Hines, USA TODAY, "Snoop Dogg says he 'didn't threaten' Gayle King for Kobe Bryant question, Katie Couric weighs in," 10 Feb. 2020 Three bouts – Andre Ewell vs. Jonathan Martinez, Andrea Lee vs. Lauren Murphy, and Jon Jones vs. Dominick Reyes – all had viewers complaining about varying levels of controversy. Nolan King, MMA Junkie, "Texas commission responds to UFC 247 judging backlash, claim by Joe Rogan," 10 Feb. 2020 Republicans seized on the controversy to help the video gain traction. Washington Post, "The Technology 202: Democrats call for Facebook, Twitter to take down edited Nancy Pelosi video," 9 Feb. 2020 Gurba’s negative review of the book became the catalyst of the controversy. oregonlive, "‘American Dirt’ publisher pledges to add Latinx authors, staff and titles following criticism of book," 6 Feb. 2020 In a video shared to her book club Instagram on Sunday, Winfrey commented on the brewing controversy surrounding Cummins’ migrant tale and acknowledged the concerns many in the Latinx community about the selection. Christi Carrasstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, "Oprah Winfrey promises a ‘deeper’ discussion of ‘American Dirt’ amid controversy," 27 Jan. 2020 Bolton's book, published by Simon & Schuster, will also touch on controversies related to Russia and Venezuela, and some top Trump officials are said to be subject to unkind descriptions. Daniel Chaitin, Washington Examiner, "Pompeo privately admitted Giuliani claims about Ukraine ambassador were phony: Bolton book," 26 Jan. 2020 The Federalist Society takes no such positions and in 38 years has never filed an amicus brief to influence a court on a legal controversy. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Judicial Political Mischief," 22 Jan. 2020 Beckham has been the source of controversy since the final second ticked off the clock of LSU’s 42-25 win over Clemson on Monday night. Mark Heim |, al, "Arrest warrant issued for Odell Beckham Jr. for slapping officer’s butt in LSU locker room video," 16 Jan. 2020

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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Time Traveler for controversy

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

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Statistics for controversy

Last Updated

14 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Controversy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for controversy


How to pronounce controversy (audio)

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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