What does controversial mean?

Definitions for controversial
ˌkɒn trəˈvɜr ʃəl, -si əlcon·tro·ver·sial

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word controversial.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. controversialadjective

    marked by or capable of arousing controversy

    "the issue of the death penalty is highly controversial"; "Rushdie's controversial book"; "a controversial decision on affirmative action"


  1. controversialadjective

    Arousing controversya debate or discussion of opposing opinions.

  2. Etymology: From controversia + -al; see controversy.

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. Controversialadjective

    Relating to disputes; disputatious.

    Etymology: from controversy.

    It happens in controversial discourses as it does in the assaulting of towns, where, if the ground be but firm whereon the batteries are erected, there is no farther enquiry of whom it is borrowed, nor whom it belongs to, so it affords but a fit rise for the present purpose. John Locke.


  1. controversial

    Controversy is a state of prolonged public dispute or debate, usually concerning a matter of conflicting opinion or point of view. The word was coined from the Latin controversia, as a composite of controversus – "turned in an opposite direction".



    Controversial refers to something that elicits intense disagreement, debate, or differing opinions among individuals or groups. It often involves controversial topics or issues that provoke strong emotions, conflicting perspectives, or arguments due to the varying viewpoints and beliefs held by different people. Such matters can be subject to controversy due to their sensitive nature, potential impact, or conflicting values and principles.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Controversialadjective

    relating to, or consisting of, controversy; disputatious; polemical; as, controversial divinity

  2. Etymology: [Cf. LL. controversialis.]

British National Corpus

  1. Spoken Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'controversial' in Spoken Corpus Frequency: #4266

  2. Adjectives Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'controversial' in Adjectives Frequency: #571

How to pronounce controversial?

How to say controversial in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of controversial in Chaldean Numerology is: 4

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of controversial in Pythagorean Numerology is: 9

Examples of controversial in a Sentence

  1. Diane Blair:

    A lot of serious news reporting has become more entertainment driven and more opinion-driven as opposed to factual, people book onto the shows, political figures, commentators who will be controversial who will be provocative because it's a good show. You might not learn anything but you might be entertained and I think that's just become an unfortunate pattern that I wish could be broken.

  2. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell:

    There is no time to insist on sweeping renegotiations or ultimatums about other policies, clean funding for worker pay in a crisis should not be controversial.

  3. Steve Vladeck:

    Today's dual rulings on the transgender ban allow the controversial policy to go into effect for now, but also allow the appeals to go forward in the lower courts, the government had asked the Justices to take the issue up even before the appeals courts could rule. Even though Supreme Court denied that request, the fact that Supreme Court is allowing the policy to go into effect suggests not only that it will eventually take the case on the merits, but also that five of the Justices believe the government is likely to prevail if and when Supreme Court happens.

  4. Alan Dershowitz:

    I have defended some of the most controversial people in American history... I am very proud of my role as a defense lawyer. I did nothing wrong in any of those cases.

  5. James Tracy:

    I describe myself as a scholar and public intellectual interested in going more deeply into controversial public events, although some may see [my theories] as beyond the pale, I am doing what we should be doing as academics.

Popularity rank by frequency of use


Translations for controversial

From our Multilingual Translation Dictionary

Get even more translations for controversial »


Find a translation for the controversial definition in other languages:

Select another language:

  • - Select -
  • 简体中文 (Chinese - Simplified)
  • 繁體中文 (Chinese - Traditional)
  • Español (Spanish)
  • Esperanto (Esperanto)
  • 日本語 (Japanese)
  • Português (Portuguese)
  • Deutsch (German)
  • العربية (Arabic)
  • Français (French)
  • Русский (Russian)
  • ಕನ್ನಡ (Kannada)
  • 한국어 (Korean)
  • עברית (Hebrew)
  • Gaeilge (Irish)
  • Українська (Ukrainian)
  • اردو (Urdu)
  • Magyar (Hungarian)
  • मानक हिन्दी (Hindi)
  • Indonesia (Indonesian)
  • Italiano (Italian)
  • தமிழ் (Tamil)
  • Türkçe (Turkish)
  • తెలుగు (Telugu)
  • ภาษาไทย (Thai)
  • Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese)
  • Čeština (Czech)
  • Polski (Polish)
  • Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian)
  • Românește (Romanian)
  • Nederlands (Dutch)
  • Ελληνικά (Greek)
  • Latinum (Latin)
  • Svenska (Swedish)
  • Dansk (Danish)
  • Suomi (Finnish)
  • فارسی (Persian)
  • ייִדיש (Yiddish)
  • հայերեն (Armenian)
  • Norsk (Norwegian)
  • English (English)

Word of the Day

Would you like us to send you a FREE new word definition delivered to your inbox daily?

Please enter your email address:


Use the citation below to add this definition to your bibliography:


"controversial." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 22 Apr. 2024. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/controversial>.

Discuss these controversial definitions with the community:


    Are we missing a good definition for controversial? Don't keep it to yourself...

    Free, no signup required:

    Add to Chrome

    Get instant definitions for any word that hits you anywhere on the web!

    Free, no signup required:

    Add to Firefox

    Get instant definitions for any word that hits you anywhere on the web!

    Browse Definitions.net


    Are you a words master?

    incapable of being atoned for
    A lacerate
    B inexpiable
    C sesquipedalian
    D bonzer

    Nearby & related entries:

    Alternative searches for controversial: