Definition of controversial in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˌkäntrəˈvərSHəl/
Pronunciation: /ˌkäntrəˈvərsēəl/


Giving rise or likely to give rise to public disagreement: years of wrangling over a controversial bypass
More example sentences
  • Pay hikes awarded to council bosses mirror the highly controversial rises in council tax.
  • Ian Waugh looks at the rise of one of the country's most controversial political figures.
  • The debate over the use of cannabis in medicine is controversial and emotive.
contentious, disputed, at issue, disputable, debatable, arguable, vexed, tendentious
informal hot



Pronunciation: /ˌkäntrəˈvərSHələst/
Pronunciation: /ˌkäntrəˈvərsēələst/
Example sentences
  • Yet neither public policymakers nor the controversialists who harass them can reasonably expect to enter a new year without making some kind of assessment of what the next 12 months may hold.
  • There is something about the Hitchens family that breeds controversialists with deft pens.
  • Of course I'm a professional controversialist but, once my copy is filed, I'm invariably the person at any gathering murmuring, ‘Oh, let's just agree to disagree!’


Late 16th century: from late Latin controversialis, from controversia (see controversy).

Words that rhyme with controversial

commercial, Herschel, inertial, infomercial

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: con·tro·ver·sial

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