18 Synonyms For “Argue” Worth Bandying About

We aren’t trying to start an argument when we say that there are a lot of different synonyms for the word argue. With so many different ways to express our creative differences, we clearly all love to agree to disagree. If you often find yourself, ahem, calmly debating with your friends and family, you might be looking for some fun new—or very old—words to describe your battles of words. Rather than simply argue, you can spice up your vocabulary with some of the great words listed below and instead opt to squabble, quarrel, or quibble with the people you love.


Bandy is an older word that can be used as a verb to mean to hit something back and forth or to exchange heated blows. The phrase bandy words means to exchange words with someone in a particularly heated or hostile manner. For example, you might say Arthur warned his knights against bandying words with the diplomats. Bandy is an older, less commonly used word with an obscure origin. It may come from the Old French word bander, meaning to hit a tennis ball back and forth.


Brabble is another older word that means “to stubbornly argue about unimportant things.” It can also be used as a noun to refer to a noisy argument. Brabble would be used in a sentence such as Diana left the room while her siblings continued to brabble about the ref’s call. Brabble comes from the Dutch word brabbelen, meaning “to jabber.”

cross swords

Intense arguments are often compared to fights or battles, and our next phrase gives things a medieval flair. The phrase cross swords is used to refer to intense, verbal battles. It is used in a sentence as in Whenever my cousins meet, they always cross swords over who has the cutest cat. (To which we ask, is this such a heated subject?) Cross swords is a figurative phrase that compares verbal duels to old fashioned duels when people used actual sword fights to settle disagreements or conflicts.


The word quibble means to argue, especially by using trivial details or criticisms. For example, you might say We quibbled over where to put the bookcase before moving it against the wall. Quibble is first recorded in the early 1600s and seems to be a derivative of the word quib, meaning a taunt or a jibe.

mix it up

We’re really getting fired up now. The phrase mix it up means “to heatedly fight or argue.” Mix it up is the phrase you want to use when describing an intense argument as if it was a championship boxing match. For example: I like to go on message boards and mix it up over who was the best James Bond actor.

You can mix it up by checking out these opposites of the word benefit.


Let’s keep the gloves on and talk about the word scrap, which is used as a noun to mean “a fight or argument” and a verb to mean “to engage in a fight or argument.” Scrap is another good word to use if you want to compare an argument to an old timey boxing match between pugilists with handlebar mustaches. For example, you can say Lance and Alexis scrapped over the last slice of pizza. The word scrap comes from the Old Norse skrapa meaning “scrape.”


We must still be looking for a fight because our next word is brawl. Brawl is used to refer to especially angry or noisy arguments as in The two chefs brawled over who would cook the main dish. The word brawl comes from the Middle English brawlen or brallen, meaning “to raise a clamor,” but is ultimately of unknown origin.


Next up is a word that sounds like the name of a fantastic beast from Harry Potter. The bizarre word pettifog means “to argue about petty matters.” It can be used in a sentence as in The butlers constantly pettifog about where to place the vase on the tablePettifog is actually a back formation from the noun pettifogger. Pettifogger was an older term for what is now commonly known as an ambulance chaser, a lawyer who tries to abuse the law for financial gain potentially by getting into petty arguments about the law.

Take a step back and learn about back formations here.


The word quarrel is used as a noun to refer to angry disputes and arguments that get so intense that they temporarily end relationships. As a verb, quarrel means “to angrily disagree” and is used in a sentence as in He sat nervously in the corner as his parents quarreled over his punishmentQuarrel comes from the Latin querēla or querella, which means a grievance or formal complaint.

lock horns

The phrase lock horns means “to become embroiled in conflict” as in The director and producer often locked horns over their creative differences. This expression alludes to stags and similar animals using their antlers or horns to battle with one another.


The word row has many different meanings, but we are interested in its sense as a noun to mean “a noisy dispute” and a verb to mean “to noisily argue.” Row can be used in this sense as in While my friends and I like to row about the best ninja turtle, in the end, we agree it is obviously Donatello. This sense of row is first recorded in the 1740s, but its origin is unknown.


Bicker is another word that means “to angrily argue about petty things.” Bicker is a good word to use if arguers are especially stubborn and unyielding. It is used in a sentence as in My best friend and her sister bicker about sharing a room all the timeBicker comes from the Middle English bikeren, but the origin is unknown.


We seem to love to argue about unimportant stuff as squabble is yet another word that means “to argue about petty matters.” It is used in a sentence as in It sounded like the kids spent half the afternoon squabbling. The word squabble probably has Scandinavian origins. It resembles the Swedish skvabbel, meaning “a quarrel, gossip” and the Norwegian skvabba, meaning “to prattle.”


The word tangle usually refers to a jumbly mess, but it is also used as an intransitive verb, usually alongside the word with, to mean “to fight or argue.” It can be used in this sense in a sentence as in I wanted the front seat, but I really didn’t want to tangle with my dad over it. Tangle comes from the Middle English tangilen and tagilen, meaning “to entangle.”


Let’s cool things down a bit and talk about the word tiff, which is used as a noun to mean “a slight argument” or as a verb to mean “to have a petty argument.” Tiff is typically used to describe smaller, less serious arguments as in We briefly tiffed about whether to end the note with a period or exclamation point. (Sounds like a healthy debate!) Like several of the words on this list, tiff has an unknown origin.


After that short break, it is time to get fired up again because the next word is wrangle. The verb wrangle means “to argue or dispute, especially in a noisy or angry manner.” For example: The senators wrangled over the tax bill for months before throwing it out completely. The word wrangle may come from the Low German wrangen, meaning “to struggle, wrestle.”

All that wrangling has made us exhausted! Here are some synonyms for exhausted.


In baseball, angrily shouting obscenities at the umpire is more than just a clever strategy, it is a cherished tradition of the game. America’s favorite pastime has given us an especially tasty word for an argument: rhubarb. This strange term has an even stranger origin story. Apparently, a bartender used the word rhubarb in the 1930s when talking to a reporter about a barroom argument in which a Brooklyn Dodgers fan killed a New York Giants fan over baseball. This bizarre story and use of rhubarb spread among the baseball community and became part of the lingo to refer to heated arguments.


Last but not least is a colloquial term mainly used in the southern United States. The word argufy means to argue or quarrel, especially about trivial things (of course). You might say I’d rather clean up this mess than argufy about who caused it. Argufy was first recorded in the 1740s and is a combination of the word argue and the suffix -fy.

Don’t fight the urge to take our quiz

Do you want to spend more time reviewing these words? No need to come to fisticuffs with us! We have everything you need, starting with this handy word list to help you study each of these terms. You can also test your mettle with our quiz—at least we can all agree that’s a fun way to see how much you’ve learned!

Guess what? You don't always have to use the word "but"... here are some alternatives.

Previous Search For Life's Meaning Starting With These Quotes Next What Are Contractions And How Do You Use Them?