Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A dispute, especially a public one, between sides holding opposing views. See Synonyms at argument.
  • n. The act or practice of engaging in such disputes: writers skilled at controversy.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A debate, discussion of opposing opinions; strife.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Contention; dispute; debate; discussion; agitation of contrary opinions.
  • n. Quarrel; strife; cause of variance; difference.
  • n. A suit in law or equity; a question of right.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Disputation; debate; agitation of contrary opinions; a formal or prolonged debate; dispute.
  • n. Specifically A suit in law; the contention in a civil action; a case in which opposing parties contend for their respective claims before a tribunal.
  • n. A matter in dispute; a question to settle.
  • n. Antagonism; resistance.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a contentious speech act; a dispute where there is strong disagreement

Etymologies

Middle English controversie, from Latin contrōversia, from contrōversus, disputed : contrō- (variant of contrā, contra-) + versus, past participle of vertere, to turn; see wer-2 in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin controversia ("debate, contention, controversy"), from controversus ("turned in an opposite direction"). (Wiktionary)

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