Argument vs. Debate – The Difference Between

What is the difference between an argument and a debate? The dictionary entries for argument and debate will…

What is the difference between an argument and a debate?

The dictionary entries for argument and debate will show give you the basics of the differences between the words. An argument is defined as an informal heated discussion that does not end in a resolution. A debate is a formal discussion that usually does end in a peaceful resolution. Even though they are different, there are some similarities in the connotations of the words because they do involve talking about a topic.

The setting where each one takes place is also different. A debate usually takes place before an audience and is usually on a question that is of interest to the public. An argument can take place anywhere and is basically an oral fight or disagreement.


A debate is a contest between two people of two groups of people in a contest setting. Each side knows what the topic of the debate is to be and prepares arguments. One side starts off by making their case for the point of view it is presenting and then the other side presents its case. The rest of the debate progresses as the sides rebut the points put forward by their opponents. It is very deliberate and the participants in a debate do their best to present both sides of an issue.

The word debate is a noun, but can also be used as a verb. When it is used as an action word, it changes because when it is used in a sentence as a gerund or a verb without a direct object then the meaning becomes similar to that of argument. When it is used as a verb with a direct object, it comes to mean a disagreement of some sort.


The main purpose of an argument is to persuade the other person in some way. It may start out as peaceful, but it is quite common to involve loud voices.

Argument can also refer to the abstract that is written to summarize work of poetry or prose.


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