• (British) IPA: /dɪˈbeɪt/


  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. (uncountable) Discussion of opposing views.
    There has been considerable debate concerning exactly how to format these articles.
  4. (frequently in the French form débat) 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.
  5. (obsolete) Strife, discord.
Translations Translations Translations Verb

debate (debates, present participle debating; past and past participle debated)

  1. (ambitransitive) To participate in a debate; to dispute, argue, especially in a public arena. [from 14th c.]
    • 1613, William Shakespeare; [John Fletcher], “The Famous History of the Life of King Henry the Eight”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: Printed by Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358 ↗, [Act II, scene iv]:
      a wise council […] that did debate this business
    • 1611, The Holy Bible, […] (King James Version), imprinted at London: By Robert Barker, […], OCLC 964384981 ↗, Proverbs 25:9 ↗:
      Debate thy cause with thy neighbour himself.
    • He presents that great soul debating upon the subject of life and death with his intimate friends.
    "Debate me, coward!" snarled the completely normal intellectual.
  2. (obsolete, intransitive) To fight. [14th-17th c.]
    • 1590, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, II.viii:
      Well knew they both his person, sith of late / With him in bloudie armes they rashly did debate.
    • 1609, William Shakespeare, Sonnet 15:
      ... wasteful Time debateth with Decay,
      To change your day of youth to sullied night
  3. (obsolete, transitive) To engage in combat for; to strive for.
    • Volunteers […] thronged to serve under his banner, and the cause of religion was debated with the same ardour in Spain as on the plains of Palestine.
  4. (transitive) To consider (to oneself), to think over, to attempt to decide
    He was debating where he'd spend his holiday.
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