May I please ask whether there is a definitive as to whether the word should be pronounced 'contr-o-versy', or 'contro-versy', as this has baffled me for years! There appears to be a difference in pronunciation between how the English and the North Americans pronounce it, but it would be good to understand both why this is the case and which of the options is more correct?

Thank you.

closed as primarily opinion-based by TimLymington, tchrist, choster, vickyace, Nick2253 May 12 '16 at 21:11

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    In the U.S., the North American pronunciation is more correct. In the U.K., the British pronunciation is more correct. – Peter Shor May 6 '16 at 12:43
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    There are many words that are pronounced (and/or spelt) differently between British & N.Americans. – TrevorD May 6 '16 at 12:48

From Oxford Dictionaries Online:

There are two possible pronunciations of the word controversy: one puts the stress on the con- and the other puts it on the -trov-. The former pronunciation is the more traditional, but the latter is now more widespread in British English.

As to why this is the case? I can guess. The prefix con- is quite common in English, and many words beginning con- are accented on the second syllable:


The word controversy is etymologically contra- + verse, so accenting the trov doesn't make sense etymologically. But most English speakers don't know etymologies, and don't take them into account when deciding on pronunciation.

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