Definition of controversial in English:



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

    ‘years of wrangling over a controversial bypass’
    • ‘Over recent days the controversial issue of the politics of aid has begun to emerge.’
    • ‘Tackling these big and controversial issues early in the third term would make sense.’
    • ‘She will be asked to find a solution over the controversial issue of a ban on hunting with dogs.’
    • ‘Proving their controversial claim will be difficult for the two sisters, however.’
    • ‘Ian Waugh looks at the rise of one of the country's most controversial political figures.’
    • ‘He was one of the most controversial figures in colonial religious and political history.’
    • ‘The bid to put up the mast comes a week before a public meeting is to be held to discuss the controversial plan.’
    • ‘The debate over the use of cannabis in medicine is controversial and emotive.’
    • ‘Pay hikes awarded to council bosses mirror the highly controversial rises in council tax.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It will now have to look at it again, but the controversial issue will first be debated at full Council.’
    • ‘Under the controversial plan all regiments would have at least two battalions.’
    • ‘This year he also implemented a controversial policy of free school meals for all city children.’
    • ‘A public inquiry will rule on a controversial plan to site a wind farm on moors north of Bury.’
    • ‘He hardly ever seems to make his mind up about anything and he hates saying anything controversial.’
    • ‘If an issue is controversial, relevant opinions as well as facts may need to be considered.’
    • ‘Anthony is a controversial figure and has a habit of saying things just to drum up a bit of publicity.’
    • ‘The project has become highly controversial due to the history and sensitivity of the site.’
    • ‘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).