Definition of controversy in English:


Pronunciation: /ˈkɒntrəvəːsi//kənˈtrɒvəsi/


  • [mass noun] Prolonged public disagreement or heated discussion.

    ‘the design of the building has caused controversy’
    [count noun] ‘the announcement ended a protracted controversy’
    • ‘This line of argument takes us swiftly into huge controversy because it goes to the heart of how we parent.’
    • ‘The application is expected to cause controversy when it is finally submitted.’
    • ‘This ascription has notoriously become a matter of debate and controversy in the modern era.’
    • ‘There is no reason to think this latest controversy will end any differently.’
    • ‘Then the police were subject to a storm of political conflict and controversy.’
    • ‘Within each of these two systems of thought and action there is controversy and argument.’
    • ‘After a few years of vigorous controversy the second great debate petered out.’
    • ‘This past week has seen more controversy arising from Sunday's live televised match.’
    • ‘The long-term effects of cannabis on the body are still a matter of controversy.’
    • ‘The good thing is that my work continues to raise a lot of controversy and dialogue.’
    • ‘He will knowingly enter a mild scuffle of controversy not of his own making.’
    • ‘Thanks to recent controversy, this last visit has taken on a greater importance than usual.’
    • ‘There is room for debate and controversy, and there is the stuff of real division.’
    • ‘I have, moreover, sought to alert the reader to key debates and points of controversy.’
    • ‘For a century, they bestrode court and country, privy to the innermost controversy.’
    • ‘The controversy over the bodies in the mortuary continues, but this time at national level.’
    • ‘A storm of controversy continues to rage over changes to bus services in Colchester.’
    • ‘It is the latest in a line of complaints about the tip which has been the source of much controversy since it opened.’
    • ‘Scholars come and go and its attribution is a constant source of controversy.’
    • ‘The legal controversy has been just one problem attending the couple's wedding plans.’
    disagreement, dispute, argument, debate, dissension, contention, disputation, altercation, wrangle, quarrel, squabble, war of words, storm
    wrangling, quarrelling, squabbling, bickering
    cause célèbre
    View synonyms


There are two possible pronunciations of the word controversy: one puts the stress on the con- and the other puts it on the -trov-. The former pronunciation is the more traditional, but the latter is now more widespread in British English.


Late Middle English: from Latin controversia, from controversus turned against, disputed, from contro- (variant of contra- against) + versus, past participle of vertere to turn.