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altercation

This word comes from Latin and literally means "a dispute with another person." An altercation is an angry, noisy argument.

Pronunciation:
ALL tur KAY shun

Part of speech:
Countable noun.
(Countable nouns, like "bottle," "piece," and "decision," are words for things that can be broken into exact units. You talk about "a bottle," "three pieces," and "many decisions."
Likewise, talk about one altercation or multiple altercations.)

Other forms:
altercations;
altercate, altercated, altercating;
altercative


An altercation is a verbal fight, right?:

Right. Although it can escalate into a physical fight, an altercation by itself is a verbal fight.

Still, you'll notice that some writers do use "altercation" to mean "physical fight," and some even refer to "physical altercations."

So should I have defined "altercation" as "a verbal or physical fight"? No, but let's avoid an altercation over it, y'all. If the dictionaries update their definitions, I will, too.

How to use it:
When you need to refer to a heated dispute in a cold, formal, serious way, call it an altercation (instead of a fight, quarrel, dispute, squabble, or argument). Journalists, lawyers, and police officers often use this word to talk about loud, furious arguments in a detached, professional way.

Talk about people starting an altercation, getting into an altercation, being involved in an altercation, witnessing an altercation, and so on.

We often add "with:" "an altercation with her friend," "this altercation with my landlord," "another altercation with a police officer."

Or, we can add "between" or "among:" "that altercation between a husband and wife," "this altercation among the tenth graders."

You might talk about an altercation over, about, or concerning a specific issue: "the altercation over a price," "their altercation about the property line," "an altercation concerning the inheritance."

examples:
She was itching for an altercation and already had one finger in the air.

They've matured. They don't stir up profane altercations at the dinner table any more.



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