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a heated or angry dispute; noisy argument or controversy.
Contemporary Examples

According to police reports, he followed Martin, and an “altercation” ensued.
Where’s the Outrage Over the Killing of Trayvon Martin? Allison Samuels March 18, 2012

The only thing that both sides agree on is that an altercation ensued, and Brown was shot multiple times.
Uneasy Peace in Ferguson in Danger After Slain Brown Named as Suspect in Robbery Justin Glawe August 14, 2014

He got into an altercation that ended with a white man savagely beating him.
Up From History, Part 4 David Frum February 3, 2013

Some reports suggest Zimmerman uttered racial insults at the teenager before the altercation.
Sanford Protesters Demand Arrest in Trayvon Death as Residents Question Racial Profiling Allison Samuels March 22, 2012

The altercation was reportedly “all over a little white H&M bow tie,” that one of the bottle service waitresses liked and put on.
Justin Bieber Involved in Brawl Over H&M Bow Tie; Kim Kardashian Rumored To Design Children’s Clothes The Fashion Beast Team August 6, 2013

Historical Examples

The Rao Sahib interposed, fearful of an altercation between his two most skillful commanders.
Lachmi Bai Rani of Jhansi Michael White

He resolved to be as prudent as possible, and avoid, as far as he could, any altercation with Haley.
Brave and Bold Horatio Alger

Passing a saloon one night alone, Gillis heard an altercation going on inside, and very naturally stepped in to enjoy it.
Mark Twain, A Biography, 1835-1910, Complete Albert Bigelow Paine

Heyward saw, by the manner of the scout, that altercation would be useless.
The Last of the Mohicans James Fenimore Cooper

And now, at the very beginning, indeed, within less than a minute they were engaged in an altercation with them.
In the grip of the Mullah F. S. Brereton

an angry or heated discussion or quarrel; argument

late 14c., from Old French altercacion (12c.) and directly from Latin altercationem (nominative altercatio) “a dispute, debate, discussion,” noun of action from past participle stem of altercari “to dispute (with another),” from alter “other” (see alter).


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