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From Longman Dictionary of Contemporary Englishcontroversialcon‧tro‧ver‧sial /ˌkɒntrəˈvɜːʃəl◂ $ ˌkɑːntrəˈvɜːr-/ ●●○ AWL adjective  DISAGREEcausing a lot of disagreement, because many people have strong opinions about the subject being discussed the controversial issue of welfare reform a highly controversial (=very controversial) plan to flood the valley in order to build a dam He is a controversial figure (=person who does controversial things) in the art world.controversially adverbCOLLOCATIONSnounsa controversial issue/topic/subjectI tried to avoid controversial topics such as politics and religion.a controversial decisionThe court’s decision was highly controversial.a controversial plan/proposal/policythe controversial plan to build a new airporta controversial figure (=a person who does controversial things)He is a controversial figure in politics.a controversial measure (=an official action that is controversial)Banning smoking in public places was a controversial measure.controversial legislation (=controversial laws)The controversial legislation has not yet been officially approved.the controversial nature of somethingThe report was kept secret because of its controversial nature.adverbshighly controversialThis policy is highly controversial.politically controversialThe area of workers’ rights remains politically controversial.
THESAURUScontroversial causing a lot of disagreement and angry argument, especially in the newspapers, on television etcAbortion is a controversial subject.The film was highly controversial at the time.contentious formal likely to cause a lot of disagreement and argument the contentious issue of immigration These claims are highly contentious.debatable/arguable used when you think that something is not certain and that people have different opinions about it, especially in the phrase it is debatable/arguable whetherIt is debatable whether this book is as good as her previous novel. It is arguable whether these measures will reduce the overall cost. Does the treatment work? I think that’s debatable.something is a moot point used when you think that something is not certain and that people have different opinions about it – a rather formal phraseWhether this proposal will really reduce crime is a moot point.
Examples from the Corpus
controversialWhat followed was the most controversial at-bat of the game.Prozac is a controversial drug used to treat depression.Then, thanks to Labour's controversial election broadcast on health, that issue, too, was effectively neutralised.Rossellini's controversial film, "The Miracle"A recent government paper on education contains some controversial new ideas.The decision to use the bomb remains the most controversial question of the Second World War.controversial figurePlayed by Philip Casnoff, Sinatra emerges as a powerful yet controversial figure.The original was said to have included even more controversial figures.Nixon's advisers impressed upon him that such a controversial figure could not be confirmed by an overwhelmingly Democratic congress.Renneker is a somewhat controversial figure; everyone seems to have an opinion.But what does Pepperdine see in Starr, a controversial figure from the highest wars of politics?Maxwell soon became a controversial figure in the world of big business.
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