1. a discussion, as of a public question in an assembly, involving opposing viewpoints: a debate in the Senate on farm price supports.
  2. a formal contest in which the affirmative and negative sides of a proposition are advocated by opposing speakers.
  3. deliberation; consideration.
  4. Archaic. strife; contention.

verb (used without object), de·bat·ed, de·bat·ing.

  1. to engage in argument or discussion, as in a legislative or public assembly: When we left, the men were still debating.
  2. to participate in a formal debate.
  3. to deliberate; consider: I debated with myself whether to tell them the truth or not.
  4. Obsolete. to fight; quarrel.

verb (used with object), de·bat·ed, de·bat·ing.

  1. to argue or discuss (a question, issue, or the like), as in a legislative or public assembly: They debated the matter of free will.
  2. to dispute or disagree about: The homeowners debated the value of a road on the island.
  3. to engage in formal argumentation or disputation with (another person, group, etc.): Jones will debate Smith. Harvard will debate Princeton.
  4. to deliberate upon; consider: He debated his decision in the matter.
  5. Archaic. to contend for or over.


  1. a formal discussion, as in a legislative body, in which opposing arguments are put forward
  2. discussion or dispute
  3. the formal presentation and opposition of a specific motion, followed by a vote


  1. to discuss (a motion), esp in a formal assembly
  2. to deliberate upon (something)he debated with himself whether to go

n.early 14c., “a quarrel, dispute, disagreement,” from Old French debat; see debate (v.). Sense of “a formal dispute, a debating contest” is perhaps from early 15c. v.late 14c., “to quarrel, dispute,” also “discuss, deliberate upon the pros and cons of,” from Old French debatre (13c., Modern French débattre), originally “to fight,” from de- “down, completely” (see de-) + batre “to beat” (see battery). Related: Debated; debating.

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