Definition of controversy in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈkɒntrəvəːsi/
Pronunciation: /kənˈtrɒvəsi/

noun (plural controversies)

[mass noun]
Prolonged public disagreement or heated discussion: the design of the building has caused controversy [count noun]: the announcement ended a protracted controversy
More example sentences
  • He will knowingly enter a mild scuffle of controversy not of his own making.
  • A storm of controversy continues to rage over changes to bus services in Colchester.
  • Then the police were subject to a storm of political conflict and controversy.


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'.

  • This is from Latin controversia, from controversus ‘turned against, disputed’.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: con¦tro|versy

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.