state of prolonged public dispute or debate

Controversy is a state of prolonged public dispute or debate usually concerning a matter of opinion.


  • Controversy may rage as long as it adheres to the presuppositions that define the consensus of elites, and it should furthermore be encouraged within these bounds, thus helping to establish these doctrines as the very condition of thinkable thought while reinforcing the belief that freedom reigns.
  • I am continually fascinated at the difficulty intelligent people have in distinguishing what is controversial from what is merely offensive.
  • Nora Ephron "Barney Collier's Book," Esquire (January 1976); republished in Scribble, Scribble (1978), ch. 10
  • Controversy equalizes fools and wise men — and the fools know it.
  • The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
  • The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way.
    • Bertrand Russell, "An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish", Unpopular Essays (1950).

Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895)Edit

Quotes reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895).
  • When men differ in any matter of belief, let them meet each other manfully.
  • No great advance has ever been made in science, politics, or religion, without controversy.
  • It is humbling to mankind to contemplate men capable of grasping eternal truths, fencing and debating in trivialities, like gladiators fighting with flies.
  • Doubtless there are times when controversy becomes a necessary evil. But let us remember that it is an evil.

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