Definition of controversial in English:



  • Giving rise or likely to give rise to controversy or public disagreement:

    ‘years of wrangling over a controversial bypass’
    • ‘A public inquiry will rule on a controversial plan to site a wind farm on moors north of Bury.’
    • ‘Under the controversial plan all regiments would have at least two battalions.’
    • ‘Tackling these big and controversial issues early in the third term would make sense.’
    • ‘The bid to put up the mast comes a week before a public meeting is to be held to discuss the controversial plan.’
    • ‘She will be asked to find a solution over the controversial issue of a ban on hunting with dogs.’
    • ‘Pay hikes awarded to council bosses mirror the highly controversial rises in council tax.’
    • ‘Over recent days the controversial issue of the politics of aid has begun to emerge.’
    • ‘If an issue is controversial, relevant opinions as well as facts may need to be considered.’
    • ‘The project has become highly controversial due to the history and sensitivity of the site.’
    • ‘He hardly ever seems to make his mind up about anything and he hates saying anything controversial.’
    • ‘Proving their controversial claim will be difficult for the two sisters, however.’
    • ‘It will now have to look at it again, but the controversial issue will first be debated at full Council.’
    • ‘The debate over the use of cannabis in medicine is controversial and emotive.’
    • ‘Ian Waugh looks at the rise of one of the country's most controversial political figures.’
    • ‘Anthony is a controversial figure and has a habit of saying things just to drum up a bit of publicity.’
    • ‘It will be interesting to see whether this starts a spate of controversial videos in the next few months.’
    • ‘Now they have reversed the controversial decision after pressure from swimmers.’
    • ‘This year he also implemented a controversial policy of free school meals for all city children.’
    • ‘He was one of the most controversial figures in colonial religious and political history.’
    • ‘The event comes to the York area at a time when the issue of waste in the city was never more controversial.’
    contentious, disputed, contended, at issue, moot, disputable, debatable, arguable, vexed, open to discussion, open to question, under discussion
    emotive, sensitive, delicate, difficult, awkward, problematic
    View synonyms


Late 16th century: from late Latin controversialis, from controversia (see controversy).