debate

1 of 2

noun

de·​bate di-ˈbāt How to pronounce debate (audio)
dē-
: a contention by words or arguments
Our polite chat about politics became a heated debate.
The case sparked a raging public debate on property rights.
: such as
a
: a regulated discussion of a proposition (see proposition entry 1 sense 1b) between two matched sides
the last presidential debate before the election
the debate's moderator
b
law and government : the formal discussion of a motion (see motion entry 1 sense 3a) before a deliberative body according to the rules of parliamentary procedure

debate

2 of 2

verb

debated; debating

transitive verb

1
a
: to argue about
the subject was hotly debated
b
: to engage (an opponent) in debate
a governor debating her challenger
2
: to turn over in one's mind : to think about (something, such as different options) in order to decide
still debating what to do

intransitive verb

1
: to participate in a debate
the six primary candidates who debated last night
2
a
: to contend in words
b
: to discuss a question by considering opposed arguments
3
obsolete : fight, contend
debatement noun
debater noun

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Choose the Right Synonym for debate

discuss, argue, debate mean to discourse about in order to reach conclusions or to convince.

discuss implies a sifting of possibilities especially by presenting considerations pro and con.

discussed the need for a new highway

argue implies the offering of reasons or evidence in support of convictions already held.

argued that the project would be too costly

debate suggests formal or public argument between opposing parties

debated the merits of the amendment

; it may also apply to deliberation with oneself.

I'm debating whether I should go

Example Sentences

Noun The candidates participated in several debates before the election was held. The meaning of the text has been the subject of considerable debate among scholars for many years. Verb Scholars have been debating the meaning of the text for years. Whether or not the tax cuts benefit the lower classes is still hotly debated among economists. The energy bill is currently being debated in Congress. The President debated his challenger in front of a live audience on Tuesday. The students debated for an hour. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
Even the official death toll is a point of fierce debate. Jonathan Bernstein, Rolling Stone, 22 Sep. 2022 At the heart of the debate over Question 1 is that someone has to sacrifice for the greater good. Shirley Leung, BostonGlobe.com, 22 Sep. 2022 Now, BlackRock is facing pushback from officials on the other side of the debate. Angel Au-yeung, WSJ, 22 Sep. 2022 Shorter workweeks are part of the debate, with some bosses using them as an enticement to lure back workers to the office. Jo Constantz, Fortune, 21 Sep. 2022 Bass sought to draw that distinction from the very outset of the debate. James Rainey, Los Angeles Times, 21 Sep. 2022 Moreover, whether cultured meat will ever scale enough to affordably feed the ever-growing masses remains a topic of debate. Rachel Levin, Bon Appétit, 19 Sep. 2022 There has always been a lot of debate around the origin of water on Earth. Joshua Hawkins, BGR, 19 Sep. 2022 On the other side of the debate is Stanley Nelson, the award-winning filmmaker whose work frequently covers the Black experience, from the Freedom Riders to the Black Panthers to Miles Davis. Addie Morfoot, Variety, 17 Sep. 2022
Verb
Ryan and Vance agreed to debate – more or less – nearly three weeks ago. Jeremy Pelzer, cleveland, 21 Sep. 2022 Researchers debate the exact percentage that health care contributes to the overall health of the population — and when someone faces a serious illness, health care clearly is all-important. jsonline.com, 15 Sep. 2022 But people who pay attention to its finer points, from scientists to sailors, city residents to real estate agents, gardeners to bridge painters, debate whether there is less fog than there used to be, as both science and general sentiment suggest. John Branch, New York Times, 14 Sep. 2022 Historians and scholars endlessly debate the effectiveness of terror bombing as a military strategy. Bob Carden, BostonGlobe.com, 1 Sep. 2022 Because Sahelanthropus lived so close to the divergence between hominins and apes, scientists debate whether the fossils are from an individual who lived after that divergence, or perhaps one who lived just before the divergence. Brian Handwerk, Smithsonian Magazine, 24 Aug. 2022 The Question Men were leaders of government agencies and captains of industry who convened in March 1939 to debate what those questions should be. Karen Sandstrom, Washington Post, 19 Aug. 2022 For the first time in a quarter century, the U.N. General Assembly met in emergency session to debate a resolution condemning the invasion. Richard Fontaine, WSJ, 11 Mar. 2022 In late November, a special meeting of the World Health Assembly convened to debate establishing a new international agreement for pandemic preparedness. Helen Branswell, STAT, 25 Dec. 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'debate.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

Etymology

Verb and Noun

Middle English, from Anglo-French debatre, from de- + batre to beat, from Latin battuere

First Known Use

Noun

13th century, in the meaning defined above

Verb

14th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 3

Time Traveler
The first known use of debate was in the 13th century

Dictionary Entries Near debate

Cite this Entry

“Debate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/debate. Accessed 5 Oct. 2022.

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Kids Definition

debate 1 of 2

noun

de·​bate di-ˈbāt How to pronounce debate (audio)
1
: a discussion or argument carried on between two teams or sides
2
: a discussion of issues We had a debate over where to go on vacation.

debate

2 of 2

verb

debated; debating
1
: to discuss a question by giving arguments on both sides : take part in a debate
2
: to consider reasons for and against : give serious and careful thought to
Mrs. Welsch seemed to be debating whether to say what she finally did. Louise Fitzhugh, Harriet the Spy

More from Merriam-Webster on debate

Last Updated: 26 Sep 2022

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