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  1. kilroy65's Avatar
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    #1

    bone of contention

    I've seen the idiom "bone of contention" used in relation to an issue/ topic about which people argue or disagree.

    Is there a similar expression we could use if we referred to a person?

    For example, in Bulgarian we use the translated phrase "apple of discord", after the ancient myth, when we refer to both people and issues who/ which are the cause of a problem.
    Last edited by kilroy65; 20-Feb-2016 at 08:45.

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    #2

    Re: bone of contention

    Quote Originally Posted by kilroy65 View Post
    I've seen the idiom "bone of contention" used in relation to an issue/ topic about which people argue or disagree.

    Is there a similar expression we could use if we referred to a person?

    For example, in Bulgarian we use the translated phrase "apple of discord", after the ancient myth, when we refer to both people and issues who/ which are the cause of a problem.
    Not a teacher

    “Bone of contention” refers to an American idiom which means dispute, quarrel or argument. Contention is an argument which is carried so far and marked by ill will and sometimes ends up with hostile action.

    Unlike debate which enables us to improve an idea, contention almost always raises more questions than answers.

    Have a good day.
    Last edited by emsr2d2; 20-Feb-2016 at 21:37. Reason: Added "Not a teacher" and removed unnecessary line breaks

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    #3

    Re: bone of contention

    Quote Originally Posted by Turner View Post
    “Bone of contention” refers to an American idiom which means dispute, quarrel or argument. Contention is an argument which is carried so far and marked by ill will and sometimes ends up with hostile action.
    A bone of contention is a disputed issue, not a dispute per se. Are you sure it's a specifically American idiom?
    I am not a teacher.

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    #4

    Re: bone of contention

    You are right, that's why I said “it refers to”. For something to evolve into a disputed issue, there has to be conflict, strife and discord etc. In simple term the word (contention) is synonymous with any of the above. Not necessarily per se.
    The phrase (bone of contention) has been argued by linguists and others who are interested in analyzing the meaning of many idiomatic expressions and colloquial phrases (like this one) which mostly have their origin in American colloquialism.
    The most noted origin that holds is the situation where one dog is trying to take away a bone from another canine who has in possession of a bone. The refusal of the other dog results in a fight.
    There is a book by Richard Spears (PhD) titled American Idioms Dictionary. There is an entry of the phrase in the book.
    Cheers

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    #5

    Re: bone of contention

    Bone of contention is certainly an American idiom in that it's commonly used in American English. I'm not ready to believe that its origin is American though. Google ngrams show very similar curves from British and American sources.
    I am not a teacher.

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