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

President Trump criticized coverage of the controversy and said the US wants to promote access to formula. Rebecca Beitsch, The Christian Science Monitor, "All US states now allow breastfeeding in public," 13 July 2018 Moss, an amateur cage fighter who joined the police department in 2004, has been the subject of controversy on the job in the past. Ian Duncan,, "Baltimore Police detective suspended after judge orders him to give up gun in domestic violence case," 13 July 2018 He is hardly shed of controversy, having worked on the Ken Starr probe of Bill Clinton, for instance. Jay Ambrose,, "Brett Kavanaugh an excellent Supreme Court pick," 11 July 2018 But the truth is, every one of the drugs that the state of Nevada planned to use in Dozier's execution is embroiled in some form of controversy. Robbie Gonzalez, WIRED, "The Untested Drugs at the Heart of Nevada's Execution Controversy," 11 July 2018 Thursday’s hearing is unlikely to provide clarity or consensus When Strzok testifies before lawmakers on Thursday, Democrats are hoping that Strzok is able to provide answers that clear up some of the controversy around his past conduct. Zeeshan Aleem, Vox, "Controversial FBI agent Peter Strzok’s upcoming hearing, explained," 11 July 2018 Patrick Smith — Getty Images Add another notch to the timeline of controversy surrounding professional football players kneeling during the national anthem. Mckenna Moore, Fortune, "NFL Players Association Challenges League Policy on Kneeling During National Anthem," 10 July 2018 That was just one of a number of controversies the group has been involved in. Wes Siler, Outside Online, "Doing It for the ‘Gram Turns Deadly," 9 July 2018 Earlier in the week, the fires of controversy were stoked when it was revealed during a debut-night staging snafu on Thursday (July 5) that Carey was lip syncing to a track. Melinda Sheckells, Billboard, "Mariah Carey Kicks Off Her 'The Butterfly Returns' Vegas Residency With Strong Opening Weekend," 8 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

10 Oct 2018

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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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Comments on controversy

What made you want to look up controversy? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a state of commotion or excitement

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