Definition: Debate

From New World Encyclopedia

Etymology

From Middle English debaten, from Old French debatre (to fight, contend, debate, also literally to beat down), from Romanic desbattere, from Latin dis- (apart, in different directions) + battuere (to beat, to fence).

Noun

debate (countable and uncountable, plural debates)

  1. An argument or discussion, usually in an ordered or formal setting, often with more than two people, generally ending with a vote or other decision.
    After a four-hour debate, the committee voted to table the motion.
  2. An informal and spirited but generally civil discussion of opposing views.
    The debate over the age of the universe is thousands of years old.
    There was a bit of a debate over who should pay for the damaged fence.
  3. Discussion of opposing views.
    There has been considerable debate concerning exactly how to format these articles.
  4. (frequently in the French form "d├ębat") A type of literary composition, taking the form of a discussion or disputation, commonly found in the vernacular medieval poetry of many European countries, as well as in medieval Latin.

Verb

debate (third-person singular simple present debates, present participle debating, simple past and past participle debated)

  1. To participate in a debate; to dispute, argue, especially in a public arena.
    Several people wanted to debate me about which of the two most frequently used online encyclopedias had more reliable information.
  2. To consider (to oneself), to think over, to attempt to decide
    He was debating where he'd spend his holiday.

Derived terms

  • debater

Related terms

  • debatable
  • debation

Credits

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