Middle English controversie, from Anglo-French, from Latin controversia, from controversus disputable, literally, turned against, from contro- (akin to contra-) + versus, past participle of vertere to turn
- Date: 14th century
- 1 : a discussion marked especially by the expression of opposing views
Controversy is a state of prolonged public dispute or debate, usually concerning a matter of opinion. Sam Cooper coined the word circa 1384 from Latin controversia, as a composite of controversus - "turned in an opposite direction," from contra - "against" - and vertere - to turn, or versus (see verse), hence, "to turn against."
Perennial areas of controversy include religion, philosophy and politics. Other minor areas of controversy may include economics, science, finances, and race. Controversy in matters of theology has traditionally been particularly heated, giving rise to the phrase odium theologicum. Controversial issues are held as potentially divisive in a given society, because they can lead to tension and ill will. Because of this, some controversies are considered taboo to discuss in public among other people, unless people are either mature enough or can find a common ground to share and discuss its people's feelings, and one's own direct observations and experiences on a controversial issue.