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 Similar changes have led to controversy in the EU, where Pfizer has been accused of charging customers for the sixth dose, even when the needles required to extract all six doses can’t be found. David Z. Morris, Fortune, "Pfizer’s extra vaccine dose was supposed to be a miracle. It’s now a mess," 21 Feb. 2021 Consumer reaction to the Wallen controversy has been more divided. Tom Roland, Billboard, "Country Queer Publisher On T.J. Osborne, Morgan Wallen & Moving the Genre Forward," 10 Feb. 2021 The Swedish oat-drink company, founded in 1994, is no stranger to controversy. Danielle Campoamor,, "We Need To Talk About That Oatly Super Bowl Commercial," 8 Feb. 2021 On a recent afternoon in his apartment in the ultra-Orthodox enclave of Bnei Brak, Rabbi Kanievsky appeared oblivious to the controversy raging around him. New York Times, "He Is Israel’s ‘Prince of Torah.’ But to Some, He Is the King of Covid.," 29 Jan. 2021 Outside experts and watchdogs who had been pushing for the federal government to take domestic terrorism more seriously said the agency’s response to the controversy was a resounding blow. Brett Murphy, USA TODAY, "A 2009 warning about right-wing extremism was engulfed by politics. There are signs it’s happening again.," 26 Jan. 2021 Paul pointed specifically to Pennsylvania, where changes to state election law without the legislature's consent led to controversy in what turned out to be a narrow win for President Biden in the state. Michael Lee, Washington Examiner, "Rand Paul vows to visit 'every state legislature' over the next two years in bid to fix elections laws," 24 Jan. 2021 Local artists Chad Stockslager and John Pedigo performed at Redfield’s prior to the controversy. Jeremy Hallock, Dallas News, "Local band returns to Redfield’s bar for benefit after thinking they’d never be back," 31 Dec. 2020 In response to the controversy, several aldermen requested an investigation by city Inspector General Joe Ferguson. Rosemary Sobol,, "Chicago police release additional videos from botched raid on Anjanette Young’s home," 30 Dec. 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

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for controversy

Last Updated

2 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Controversy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Mar. 2021.

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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 controversy (audio) \ adjective

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