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.

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.
Recent Examples on the Web But the recent controversy over the company’s return-to-office plan is a reminder that some employers are still having trouble grasping what flexibility really looks like. Sarah Todd, Quartz, 9 May 2022 He was fired in April 1990 after a controversy over allegations of academic negligence. Mark Heim |, al, 9 May 2022 Amid a wave of controversy and condemnation over his comments, Neeson spoke to Good Morning Amerca's Robin Roberts. Jen Juneau,, 6 May 2022 The controversy over the primary ballot is not the only issue roiling the upcoming election in New York. Washington Post, 2 May 2022 And, before the controversy over her comments, James-Ward had filed an abusive behavior complaint against Allman. Charles T. Clarkcolumnist, San Diego Union-Tribune, 29 Apr. 2022 Chris Rock's mother, Rose Rock, is the latest to speak out about the ongoing controversy over Will Smith slapping Chris Rock at the Oscars. Hannah Yasharoff, USA TODAY, 24 Apr. 2022 But the justices in Washington, perhaps chastened by the enduring political controversy over Bush v. Gore (2000), seem reluctant to take up such cases close to an election. David B. Rivkin Jr. And Andrew M. Grossman, WSJ, 24 Apr. 2022 Behind the controversy over Musk’s bid is a years-long debate about whether tech executives already hold too much control over online speech. Joseph Menn, Cat Zakrzewski And Craig Timberg, Anchorage Daily News, 17 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

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

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Last Updated

13 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Controversy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for controversy


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

More from Merriam-Webster on controversy

Nglish: Translation of controversy for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of controversy for Arabic Speakers


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