dis·​pu·​ta·​tious ˌdi-spyə-ˈtā-shəs How to pronounce disputatious (audio)
: inclined to dispute
: marked by disputation
: provoking debate : controversial
disputatiously adverb
disputatiousness noun

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The History of Disputatious Isn't Controversial

Disputatious can be used of both people and things. Disputatious people like to provoke arguments or find something to disagree about. In the "things" category, the word can apply to both situations and issues. For example, court trials are disputatious; that is, they are marked by disputation, or verbal controversy. An issue or matter is disputatious if it provokes controversy. However, if a matter, such as an assertion made by someone, is open to question rather than downright controversial, it's merely disputable. In any case, there's no arguing that both disputatious and its synonym disputative have changed their connotation somewhat from their Latin source, the verb disputare. That word means simply "to discuss."

Examples of disputatious in a Sentence

a long history of little wars waged by the disputatious countries occupying that European peninsula a disputatious professor who could give you an argument on just about anything
Recent Examples on the Web Still, even by these disputatious standards, the arguments that have been carrying on around Amherst Regional Middle School, or ARMS, have been vociferous. Jessica Winter, The New Yorker, 3 Apr. 2024 The 1990s were especially disputatious; civil wars arose on multiple continents, as did major wars in Europe and Africa. Paul Poast, The Atlantic, 17 Nov. 2023 Hans Küng, a Roman Catholic theologian and priest whose brilliantly disputatious, lucidly expressed thoughts in more than 50 books and countless speeches advanced ecumenism and provoked the Vatican to censure him, died on Tuesday at his home in Tübingen, Germany. New York Times, 6 Apr. 2021 Mercurial, determined, needy, disputatious—the moods more so than seasons of Acker’s life were rapid, and any biography is bound to contradict and complement and hone the myths that continue to attract us to her writing and her symbol. Liz Sullivan, Hazlitt, 5 Dec. 2022 Today’s disputatious conservatives are leading our latest effort to conjoin individual freedom and collective purpose. Christopher Demuth, WSJ, 18 Nov. 2022 Its lament resonates for art once seen as a disputatious civic forum, now overrun by the hard coin of investment markets. Los Angeles Times, 21 Nov. 2021 In his interviews, Harris adopts a drowsy monotone that seems pitched to signal his commitment to the dispassionate promotion of disputatious ideas. Gideon Lewis-Kraus, The New Yorker, 6 Sep. 2021 In the first, 100 brothers, of the same parents, gather in their family’s dilapidated library for a splendidly disputatious meal. New York Times, 19 Apr. 2021

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'disputatious.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1660, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of disputatious was in 1660


Dictionary Entries Near disputatious

Cite this Entry

“Disputatious.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/disputatious. Accessed 28 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


dis·​pu·​ta·​tious ˌdis-pyə-ˈtā-shəs How to pronounce disputatious (audio)
: likely to dispute or cause dispute
also : marked by disputation
disputatiousness noun

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