Definition of debate in English:


Syllabification: de·bate
Pronunciation: /dəˈbāt


1A formal discussion on a particular topic in a public meeting or legislative assembly, in which opposing arguments are put forward.
More example sentences
  • Watt committed himself to holding more public debates and discussions separate from council meetings.
  • In those circumstances the House does not need to hold an urgent debate on the matter today.
  • Not one public meeting or debate has been organised by the council.
1.1An argument about a particular subject, especially one in which many people are involved: the national debate on abortion there has been much debate about prices
More example sentences
  • The debate on this subject will go on as long as the human race exists, so all I can do is raise a few points on the subject.
  • This aspect of the debate has been the subject of much political and academic disagreement.
  • I wouldn't normally involve myself in debates or arguments about who should be American president.


[with object] Back to top  
1Argue about (a subject), especially in a formal manner: the board debated his proposal the date when people first entered America is hotly debated
More example sentences
  • The issue of the bridge came up again, for the second month in a row, and again the topic was hotly debated.
  • But when it came to the price of salt, the commissioners spent many hours debating the subject.
  • Further rioting followed and the subject was debated in the Reichstag.
discuss, talk over/through, talk about, thrash out, hash out, argue, dispute
informal kick around, bat around
1.1 [with clause] Consider a possible course of action in one’s mind before reaching a decision: he debated whether he should leave the matter alone or speak to her
More example sentences
  • I can see she is debating whether or not to tell me the truth.
  • Sandra paused for a moment and debated in her mind as to whether she should go or not.
  • Christine looked at Jacquin, she was debating in her mind if she should talk to him or not.
consider, think over/about, chew over, mull over, ponder, revolve, deliberate, contemplate, muse, meditate
formal cogitate


Middle English: via Old French from Latin dis- (expressing reversal) + battere 'to fight'.


be open to debate

Be unproven; require further discussion.
More example sentences
  • Furthermore, the true value of those benefits is open to debate.
  • Just how much Yorkshire will benefit from his return is open to debate as the player is contracted to England.
  • How well specific juries expressed the people's will was open to debate.

under debate

Being discussed or disputed.
More example sentences
  • One of the key policy discussions currently under debate is research on embryonic stem-cells.
  • Fisher's theory is just one of several hypotheses under debate today.
  • There's a controversial proposal under debate in New York City now that would give non-citizens a protected privilege of American citizenship, the right to vote.



More example sentences
  • If more and more see themselves as advocates rather than as generators and debaters of ideas, then it's a different society
  • The topic this week is how the Fourth Amendment should apply to searches of computer hard drives, and the debaters are Professor Brenner and myself.
  • But surprisingly, on one key issue, the debaters found common cause.

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