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
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
There's no debate for who should take the top spot in our rankings. Michael Shapiro, Chron, 22 Nov. 2022 The speed and duration of special counsel investigations has been the subject of intense debate in recent years. Perry Stein, Washington Post, 22 Nov. 2022 The speed and duration of special counsel investigations has been the subject of intense debate in recent years. Devlin Barrett And Perry Stein, Anchorage Daily News, 22 Nov. 2022 Devaux is now a neutral arbiter after previously representing the insurance side (with Blue Cross) or the hospital side (with Beth Israel) of the debate. Jon Chesto, BostonGlobe.com, 21 Nov. 2022 Officials expect those decisions will be the subject of fierce debate in the coming months. Matthew Dalton, WSJ, 20 Nov. 2022 That approach was inspired in part by a platform called Polis—used in Taiwan to crowdsource the creation of new laws—that is among the few examples of technologies shown to coax agreement out of online debate. Carl Miller, WIRED, 20 Nov. 2022 For today’s writers, Enheduanna has become a personification of creative power, regardless of the academic debate. Elizabeth Winkler, The New Yorker, 19 Nov. 2022 There was no debate Monday by the council on the project, which has been before its members for weeks and included lengthy discussions on the complex funding plan last month at a work session and a first reading of the funding plan. Paul Gattis | Pgattis@al.com, al, 14 Nov. 2022
Verb
The council, which takes final votes on acts of clemency the governor recommends, has dispensed with public hearings or debate on any of the other pardons proposed this year. Sam Doran, BostonGlobe.com, 21 Nov. 2022 And there was a weekslong kerfuffle about why one candidate for governor refused to debate the other. Richard Ruelas, The Arizona Republic, 8 Nov. 2022 The agreement, reported in advance by Bloomberg, will allow diplomats and leaders to officially debate the issue for the first time during the two week-long conference in the Egyptian seaside town of Sharm el-Sheikh. John Ainger, Fortune, 6 Nov. 2022 The episode features a full seven minutes in which the candidates debate energy and climate change. Sammy Rothstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 3 Nov. 2022 As for this year’s contest, District 7 voters haven’t gotten a chance to see the candidates debate. Skyler Swisher, Orlando Sentinel, 3 Nov. 2022 Watch the other excerpts: See DeWine and Whaley debate the corrupt House Bill 6 and how DeWine’s signing of that bill ended green energy requirements. cleveland, 28 Oct. 2022 But this is why the committee exists in the first place, to balance those ideas and debate what one loss in a difficult season opener says about a team that has clearly improved week by week. Dan Wolken, USA TODAY, 25 Oct. 2022 The insider’s joke about jollof is that its many fans debate who deserves credit for bringing us this perfect mix of rice, tomatoes, peppers, and spice. Men's Health, 25 Oct. 2022 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 28 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition

debate 1 of 2

noun

de·​bate di-ˈbāt How to pronounce debate (audio)
: a verbal argument: as
a
: the discussion of a motion before a legislature
b
: a regulated discussion of a problem between two matched sides

debate

2 of 2

verb

debated; debating
1
: to discuss or examine a question often publicly by presenting and considering arguments on both sides
2
: to take part in a debate
3
: to present or consider the reasons for and against : consider
debater noun

More from Merriam-Webster on debate

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