AskDefine | Define squabble

Dictionary Definition

squabble n : a quarrel about petty points [syn: bicker, bickering, spat, tiff, pettifoggery, fuss] v : argue over petty things; "Let's not quibble over pennies" [syn: quibble, niggle, pettifog, bicker, brabble]

User Contributed Dictionary



  • (UK) /ˈskwɒbl/, /"skwQbl/
  • (US) /ˈskwɑːbl/, /"skwA:bl/
  • Rhymes: -ɒbəl


  1. a minor fight or argument as between children, for example

Derived terms



  1. to participate in a minor fight or argument

Derived terms


Extensive Definition

A controversy or dispute occurs when parties actively disagree, argue about, or debate, a matter of opinion. Controversies can range in size from private disputes between two individuals to large-scale disagreements between societies.
Perennial areas of controversy include religion, philosophy and politics. 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. Some controversies are considered taboo to many people, unless a society can find a common ground to share and discuss its people's feelings on a certain controversial issue.
Benford's law of controversy, as expressed by science-fiction author Gregory Benford in 1980, states "Passion is inversely proportional to the amount of real information available."

In law

In the theory of law, a controversy differs from a legal case; while the latter includes all suits, criminal as well as civil, a controversy is a purely civil proceeding.
For example, the Case or Controversy Clause of Article Three of the United States Constitution (Section 2, Clause 1) states that "the judicial Power shall extend ... to Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party". This clause has been deemed to impose a requirement that United States federal courts are not permitted to hear cases that do not pose an actual controversy—that is, an actual dispute between adverse parties which is capable of being resolved by the court. In addition to setting out the scope of the jurisdiction of the federal judiciary, it also prohibits courts from issuing advisory opinions, or from hearing cases that are either unripe, meaning that the controversy has not arisen yet, or moot, meaning that the controversy has already been resolved.
Amount in controversy is a term in United States civil procedure to denote a requirement that persons seeking to bring a lawsuit in a particular court must be suing for a certain minimum amount before that court may hear the case.

In early Christianity

Many of the early Christian writers, among them Irenaeus, Athanasius, and Jerome, were famed as "controversialists"; they wrote works against perceived heresy or heretical individuals, works whose titles begin "Adversus..." such as Irenaeus' Adversus haereses. The Christian writers inherited from the classical rhetors the conviction that controversial confrontations, even over trivial matters, were a demonstration of intellectual superiority. See Christian theological controversy.
squabble in Bulgarian: Спор
squabble in German: Kontroverse
squabble in Estonian: Vaidlus
squabble in Spanish: Controversia
squabble in French: Controverse
squabble in Hebrew: מחלוקת
squabble in Portuguese: Controvérsia
squabble in Simple English: Controversy
squabble in Yiddish: מחלוקת

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

altercate, altercation, argufy, argument, beef, bicker, bicker over, bickering, blood feud, brawl, broil, caterwaul, clash, contend about, contention, contest, controversy, differ, dispute, donnybrook, donnybrook fair, embroilment, encounter, fall out, feud, fight, fight over, flite, fliting, fracas, fuss, hassle, have words, imbroglio, join issue, logomachy, open quarrel, polemic, quarrel, quarrel over, quibble, row, scrap, set to, sharp words, slanging match, snarl, spar, spat, squabble over, strife, take issue with, tiff, tussle, vendetta, words, wrangle, wrangle over
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