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 These days Budapest is largely retired from ritual work, but still invites controversy and criticism, sometimes from fellow feminists. Deborah Netburn, Los Angeles Times, 18 Sep. 2021 Maher, who at the time was DHS' principal deputy general counsel, was installed last summer to lead the intelligence office amid a First Amendment controversy and management shakeup. Zachary Cohen, CNN, 14 Sep. 2021 The arts leaders fear a conflict of interest or bias by Maxwell because many of them, or representatives of their organizations, have spoken publicly about the Mad Cow controversy and boycott. Matthew J. Palm,, 10 Sep. 2021 The uncompleted statue remains the subject of some controversy and disapproval from a number of Lakota and descendants of Crazy Horse, who say carving into a mountain on sacred tribal land is not a fitting tribute to the humble warrior. Web Behrens,, 9 Sep. 2021 This is why headlines and claims that tout ground-breaking large scale simulations of the brain can be misleading, sometimes resulting in controversy and backlash. Gabriel A. Silva, Forbes, 3 Sep. 2021 Joy Behar is the The View's only remaining original co-host, and after 23 seasons at the daytime talk show, she's been involved in her fair share of heated debates and controversy. Emily Strohm,, 1 Sep. 2021 There is always some form of speculation or controversy. Joe Schad, USA TODAY, 30 Aug. 2021 Beijing was surrounded by controversy over China’s record on Tibet, human rights and press freedom. Chris Lehourites, San Francisco Chronicle, 29 Aug. 2021

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

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

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Last Updated

22 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Controversy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Sep. 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

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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