bone of contention

bone of contention


  • the subject of a dispute
  • the subject of argument or disagreement
  • something that people have been arguing about for a long period of time

Example Sentences

  1. A serious bone of contention between the landowners and the developers was the compensation price for the land.
  2. The fact that Peter did not go to medical school is a bone of contention between him and his father.
  3. After my grandfather died his will was a bone of contention in the family.
  4. Playing game on new smartphone is a real bone of contention between two sisters.
  5. That beautiful girl has now become a bone of contention between two best friends of the college.
  6. The new manager has changed into a bone of contention in Jenny’s factory.


The phrase used to be “a bone of dissension”. Dissension means “a disagreement that leads to discord”.

The idiom can be related to two dogs fighting over the last bone. This bone would then be the reason that they are fighting. Neither is willing to give up their side and thus the fight is ongoing.

The original phrase was used 1500s but changed in and around the 1700s. It is unclear whether the phrase has changed or whether the word “dissension” just fell into disuse.

There is also a possibility that it can be traced back to the phrase “to find bones in something”. This phrase meant to find an objection to something. In both phrases the word “bone” means to oppose something. This phrase can be traced back to the Paston letters of 1459.


  • disagreement
  • sticking point
  • difficulty
  • problem
  • hurdle
  • obstacle
  • dispute
  • question mark

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