Definition of dispute in English:



  • 1A disagreement, argument, or debate.

    ‘a territorial dispute between the two countries’
    ‘the question in dispute is altogether insignificant’
    • ‘Ms Baker is currently in dispute with West Wiltshire Housing Association, who she says are trying to evict her from the house for damage.’
    • ‘The engineers are in dispute with British Gas over the its plans to end a final salary pension scheme for new employees from January.’
    • ‘We had been in dispute with a major financial institution since February because we believed we had been sold an endowment policy that was not suitable.’
    • ‘The sheep farmers had been in dispute with factories over what they claimed was a serious cut in the price being paid for lamb.’
    • ‘Families are finding themselves in dispute with the Revenue even when tax planning was the furthest thing from their minds.’
    • ‘But consultants remain in dispute with the Government over a scheme aimed at streamlining public health compensation claims.’
    • ‘Shifting weather patterns would prompt changes that could lead to international disputes.’
    • ‘Unequal access to water will lead us to disputes and war, and heading off that spectre is also what skilled politicians exist for.’
    • ‘Despite his dissatisfaction with financial constraints, Mr Martin said he was not in dispute with Mr McCreevy.’
    • ‘The initial dispute led to a brawl involving over ten people in which one was hit with a glass or glass bottle.’
    • ‘As for her naïve belief that people would not fight to death over a parking space, Hilary Evans has clearly never seen my husband in dispute with another motorist.’
    • ‘Before that first stone was put in place the Bucknells were in dispute with the council over its design, and had two suggestions turned down.’
    • ‘Both Kuerten and Marshall vowed not to ride on a team with O'Connor, and are in dispute with the selectors.’
    • ‘As the alliance gradually grew into a federation, the many cantonal and communal differences led to frequent disputes and armed conflicts.’
    • ‘Relatives of people buried in the former Wesleyan cemetery in Cheetham Hill have been in dispute with Manchester city council for the past four months.’
    • ‘He believes those people already in dispute with their neighbours will exploit the legislation to cause as much aggravation as possible to rivals.’
    • ‘While she had been in dispute with the tax people about a year-and-a-half ago, she believed the matter had been settled and she was fully paid up.’
    • ‘To be in dispute with the club for which he had played and coached has obviously cut deep, yet Telfer, true to form, rationalises the issue.’
    • ‘The obscure legal status of these territories and zones often leads to disputes and conflicts.’
    • ‘The consultants are in dispute with the Department over medical indemnity.’
    quarrel, argument, altercation, squabble, falling-out, shouting match, disagreement, difference of opinion, clash, wrangle, feud, fight, fracas, brawl
    debate, discussion, discourse, disputation, argument, controversy, contention, disagreement, altercation, falling-out, quarrelling, variance, dissension, conflict, friction, strife, discord, antagonism
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1A disagreement between management and employees that leads to an action of protest by the employees.
      ‘if this dispute cannot be resolved quickly, a formal strike is inevitable’
      • ‘York, Wakefield and Doncaster stations are run by GNER and will not be affected as the unions are not in dispute with that company.’
      • ‘But Allan Craig added, if the council goes ahead with the plans, the would declare a dispute which could lead to industrial action of some kind.’
      • ‘Please forgive me for perhaps dealing with it in this way: we have received a huge amount of evidence of what is wrong with management, and why disputes are not resolved, and why you get employment law cases.’
      • ‘Mr Hayes said the dispute had led to a shutdown of services to farmers and everything from the payment of EU monies to the issuing of cattle movement permits has been delayed.’
      • ‘But Val Hampshire, who has been a control operator for 17 years, denied that the dispute was being led from London.’
      • ‘Coun Stroud condemned the scheme as inappropriate at a time when the Fire Brigades Union is in dispute with the Government over pay.’
      • ‘The dispute is over management's failure to fully inform employees about adverse changes to their superannuation scheme.’
      • ‘We have got to kiss and make up with the staff we have been in dispute with and get the team rebuilt.’
      • ‘The Wagner Act of 1935 also created the National Labor Relations Board to help oversee employee disputes in private industry.’
      • ‘Security firm Brinks Allied is in dispute with its staff over new security arrangements which, the union claims, put its members in more danger.’
      • ‘The strike was called by the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union, which is in dispute with the company over pay and conditions.’
      • ‘The dispute between management and doctors has been dragging on for a number of years, since a review of medical services within the State's prisons.’
      • ‘Conductors are already in dispute with the company, while station and clerical staff are being balloted for industrial action.’
      • ‘The dispute has led to 263 staff being removed from the Department's payroll and farming activities being disrupted in various parts of the country.’
      • ‘The group is also in dispute with the National Union of Journalists over the axing of 11 editorial positions.’
      • ‘The Senior National Officer for the union said they had come up against a brick wall when seeking talks with management over their disputes.’
      • ‘An accountancy firm estimates that an escalation of the dispute leading to disruption of the national rail network could take the nation's bill up to £200m a day.’
      • ‘Disputes in the fishing industry fall mainly into two groups but any type of dispute can lead to industrial action.’
      • ‘ALMOST 400 students at a city vocational school could be locked out for a day just weeks ahead of their State exams due to a dispute over the management there.’
      • ‘The union, which represents most of the 2,500 workers in the dairy processing giant, is in dispute with the co-op over its procedural agreement.’


  • 1Argue about (something); discuss heatedly.

    ‘I disputed the charge on the bill’
    [no object] ‘he taught and disputed with local poets’
    • ‘Not knowing how to argue in Mandarin, it is very difficult to dispute any bill or when you think you have been overcharged.’
    • ‘Not a weekend has gone by where some, or all, of the teams are not discussing or disputing these regulations.’
    • ‘Government officials now estimate 54,000 people are dead in the disputed territory.’
    • ‘As usual, they don't try to argue with the post as a whole or dispute its principal themes.’
    • ‘I have to say that the Olympiad for breakaway regions, disputed territories and separatist enclaves quite appeals to me.’
    • ‘As the country invaded its neighbour in a bid to retrieve disputed territory, the region witnessed the kind of fighting that would not have seemed out of place in Flanders during the first world war.’
    • ‘The physical borders may no longer exist but the authorities are watching and waiting for the moment when these disputed territories have to be renegotiated yet again.’
    • ‘Officers also impounded the motorcycle as disputed property and all three were charged with possession of a class 5 illegal drug.’
    debate, discuss, exchange views
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Question whether (a statement or alleged fact) is true or valid.
      ‘the accusations are not disputed’
      [with clause] ‘the estate disputes that it is responsible for the embankment’
      • ‘Some reliance was placed on this by him since the Claimant, it is not disputed, falls within that very broad category.’
      • ‘Now, underpinning all of those particular questions is the much more general consideration: what, if any, disputed question of fact is there in this case?’
      • ‘There is a clear and substantial prejudice to the Claimant - she is unable to dispute the facts alleged by the Defendant that go to the heart of the case as both Cecil and Arthur are dead.’
      • ‘Darling disputed these assertions of fact, but there were no proceedings in which he could be given a hearing or the matters resolved after full consideration.’
      • ‘Mr Haughey's solicitors dispute this conclusion and argue the monies came through Mr Traynor.’
      • ‘In any event, the International Committee of the Red Cross hotly disputes this claim.’
      • ‘Cesare's claims of provocation weren't disputed; nobody quarrelled with Cesare Borgia at the height of his power.’
      • ‘Of course, we will see in our learned friends' submission whether they dispute our repeated assertions that the evidence was uncontested.’
      • ‘David Berman has disputed this view, arguing that Collins is, in fact, an atheist.’
      • ‘When a member asks a question with an assertion contained within it, it is perfectly open to the Minister to answer the question by disputing the assertion.’
      • ‘Maddison disputes the interpretation and argues that 1820 is a much more crucial point separating periods of slow and rapid growth.’
      • ‘White is now disputing the head-rubbing charge.’
      • ‘Marshall disputes the argument that Dean has locked up the nomination.’
      • ‘It was not disputed that the words were spoken on a privileged occasion, but the plaintiff alleged that the privilege was defeated by malice on the defendant's part.’
      • ‘In effect the accuracy of the vast majority of the series' facts could not be disputed or questioned in any way.’
      • ‘And then I disputed every single charge our company had made on it!’
      • ‘You're disputing a laying of charges against you; what are those charges?’
      • ‘He disputed Cross's evidence though he admitted he had told another prisoner that he had been involved.’
      • ‘He also argued with the tournament referee and later disputed another decision with a linesman.’
      • ‘Smith-Windsor also disputes the argument that if Talisman left Sudan, another company would take over.’
  • 2Compete for; strive to win.

    ‘the two drivers crashed while disputing the lead’
    • ‘They were, in effect, disputing some common territory, a point that the diagram reveals especially when Modernism triumphs after the Second World War.’
    • ‘Scottish International fell runner Neil Wilkinson gave them the lead after Holmfirth, Morpeth and Derby all disputed top spot following the first three legs.’
    • ‘As the race progressed Hanks dropped back a little leaving Horspole and Neary to dispute the lead.’
    • ‘Similar struggles exist in east Malaysia, where the land rights of indigenous groups are bitterly disputed with loggers eager to harvest the timber for export.’
    • ‘You see, they were disputing territory with the guerillas.’
    • ‘That left Martin Tomcyk and Alexandre Premat disputing the lead.’
    • ‘Macclesfield took an early and disputed lead through a Lee Glover penalty and veteran Tony Ford equalised for the home side on 25 minutes.’
    • ‘In its classic sense, war means an armed conflict between two sovereign nations disputing control of territory.’
    • ‘Somalia became, and remains, a classic ‘failed state’ where warlords dispute resources and territory.’
    1. 2.1archaic Resist (a landing or advance)
      ‘I formed my line and prepared to dispute the advance of the foe’
      • ‘He has disposed of his surplus baggage and commissary stores, placing them out of reach of any descent of a force in this direction, and leaving him free to dispute the advance of the rebel army.’
      • ‘At 1:30 p. m. the column is again in motion; no enemy has appeared to dispute the advance.’


  • beyond dispute

    • Certain or certainly; without doubt.

      ‘the main part of his argument was beyond dispute’
      • ‘All of that is almost certainly beyond dispute.’
      • ‘You will have to be the judge… however, it is without dispute that Herring certainly had a big impact on the direction of aviation.’
      • ‘He was the better man and he beat me convincingly and without dispute.’
      • ‘They seem to be under the impression that it is both obvious and beyond dispute and, therefore, no argument even needs to be made.’
      • ‘And I think it's going to be clear and beyond dispute that he misled her into thinking that he was married.’
      • ‘That they deserve formal international acceptance is surely beyond dispute.’
      • ‘Researchers have never proven beyond dispute that there were ever societies in which women had power and influence greater than or even equal to that of men.’
      • ‘‘There are certain facts of life so long obvious they would seem beyond dispute,’ it runs.’
      • ‘Scholars and judges can debate how loosely constitutional language should be interpreted, but one need not be a strict constructionist to find this language clear beyond dispute.’
      • ‘What is definitely beyond dispute is that the captured forces certainly did not enter any US territory.’
  • open to dispute

    • Not definitely decided.

      ‘such estimates are always open to dispute’
      • ‘While there is merit to his remarks, Legros bases them on quantitative estimates that are open to dispute.’
      • ‘In other places the colonial economic impact was less all-embracing and more open to dispute.’
      • ‘Beyond that, the conclusions are open to dispute.’
      • ‘The criteria for making this determination is variable and open to dispute.’
      • ‘It needs to be clear as any other means of doing this could be open to dispute.’
      • ‘The nature of the right of support is not open to dispute.’
      • ‘Council says those noise readings have been accepted by the courts and are not open to dispute.’
      • ‘The reliability of these statistics is open to dispute, for one cannot but question whether they reflect the rent of all land or merely land devoted mainly to agricultural production.’
      • ‘In any case, the criteria by which we judge whether one theory is ‘simpler’ than another are themselves open to dispute and are often far from obvious.’
      • ‘How much dislocation they create is always open to dispute.’


Middle English: via Old French from Latin disputare to estimate (in late Latin to dispute), from dis- apart + putare reckon.