The term originates in c.1384, from Latin controversia, as a composite of controversus "turned in an opposite direction", from contra- "against" and versus (see verse).
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.
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 sue for a certain minimum amount before that court may hear the case.