Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference between Argument and Debate

Argument vs Debate

What is the difference between argument and debate? Both ‘argument’ and ‘debate’ are related terms that can be used by English speakers to describe speaking about a topic and providing support to their opinions on it. For example, “She presented an argument about her opinion on the topic, and that lead to a debate among her coworkers.”
The noun ‘argument’ means in technical terms statements, reasoning or evidence presented by someone in written or spoken form that support something, such as a particular opinion. For example, “He provided a valid argument for having a four day work week.” It can also have the meaning of a discussion in which people express their differing opinions with one another on a topic. For example, “The company allowed the argument of the issue of a four day work week to be discussed openly by all at the meeting.” Arguments in this sense are generally persuasive in their nature about a subject, but don’t often end in a decision or a formal ruling. ‘Argument’ also has a less formal and more commonly used meaning of an angry or passionate disagreement about something. For example, “Bob got into a heated argument with his boss about whether or not he should have Fridays off each week.”

A ‘debate’, as a noun, is understood as a formal discussion between people or groups of people that is regulated. Interestingly, debates are considered based on ‘arguments’, which are lines of reasoning, support or evidence about a subject. However, a debate has the feeling of a larger, longer or more formal discussion. A formal debate may even be judged by a person or a panel of people, with one side winning the debate by providing the best lines of reasoning or support for the issue. For example, “She argued that people should have the right to decide about their own medical care at the debate.”

A debate has also come to have a meaning similar to an argument in the negative sense in colloquial English in modern usage. For example you may hear someone say, “The child had an all-out debate with his mother about not eating his peas.” In this less formal usage, the word ‘debate’ is used to show the discussion or disagreement was more involved or longer than a normal argument, or perhaps less emotional or passionately angry. ‘Debate’ carries the idea of more intellectual discussion about disagreement when used this way, as opposed to ‘argument’, which implies a more emotion driven quarrel.

In general, ‘Argument’ means a line of reasoning or evidence in support of an issue or opinion. It has a more informal usage, as well as it can imply a personal dispute that has a more negative meaning to it. ‘Debate’ is more often used as a formal word that implies a larger or public-style discussion with people supporting both sides of the issue and rules or specific guidelines governing the proceedings.


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