Synonym Chooser

How does the noun altercation contrast with its synonyms?

Some common synonyms of altercation are quarrel, squabble, and wrangle. While all these words mean "a noisy dispute usually marked by anger," altercation implies fighting with words as the chief weapon, although it may also connote blows.

a loud public altercation

Where would quarrel be a reasonable alternative to altercation?

In some situations, the words quarrel and altercation are roughly equivalent. However, quarrel implies heated verbal contention, stressing strained or severed relations which may persist beyond the contention.

a quarrel nearly destroyed the relationship

When is it sensible to use squabble instead of altercation?

The meanings of squabble and altercation largely overlap; however, squabble stresses childish and unseemly dispute over petty matters, but it need not imply bitterness or anger.

a brief squabble over what to do next

When would wrangle be a good substitute for altercation?

The words wrangle and altercation can be used in similar contexts, but wrangle suggests undignified and often futile disputation with a noisy insistence on differing opinions.

wrangle interminably about small issues

Thesaurus Entries Near altercation

Cite this Entry

“Altercation.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Sep. 2023.

More from Merriam-Webster on altercation

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!