con·​tro·​ver·​sy | \ ˈkän-trə-ˌvər-sē, 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

Piers Morgan is stirring up controversy again—and Sophie Turner is having none of it. Abby Gardner, Glamour, "Sophie Turner Totally Shut Down Piers Morgan Over His Tweets About Mental Health," 9 Jan. 2019 Though a few contestants sparked controversy with their comments (or their surprising exits) the most shocking moment came from none other than coach Adam Levine. Megan Stein, Country Living, "Chevel Shepherd Wins 'The Voice' Season 15," 19 Dec. 2018 Over his decade spanning career, each one of Slimane’s debuts has been met with off-the-chart amounts of speculation and controversy. Steff Yotka, Vogue, "Meet the People, Trends, and Products That Will Rule Fashion in 2019," 17 Dec. 2018 Pink's husband Carey Hart has sparked some controversy after posting an Instagram of himself and the couple's 1-year-old son Jameson dirt biking. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "Pink’s Husband Carey Hart Is Accused of "Endangering" Their Son," 12 Dec. 2018 Their relationship sparked controversy due to their 15-year age difference. Fox News, "Sofia Richie attempts to dodge Scott Disick questions during live interview," 2 Oct. 2018 In more recent years, Lee distanced itself from some symbols whose continued veneration had stirred national controversy, removing the Southern battle flag from football uniforms and banning its use at school activities. Lauren Caruba, San Antonio Express-News, "Lee High School’s mountain of memories to be auctioned," 11 July 2018 Moving those powers from the Department of Natural Resources — the state’s chief environmental enforcement agency — has sparked controversy. Lee Bergquist, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Dairy group uses behind-the-scenes influence with Gov. Scott Walker to shift regulation of large livestock farms," 6 July 2018 Calculating the value that solar adds to a home has generated controversy. Ryan Randazzo, azcentral, "Should you install solar on your home? 10 key considerations," 4 July 2018

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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Last Updated

17 Jan 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 \
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 \
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 \ adjective

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someone who never drinks alcohol

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