I've been misled by my own industry! I often have seen the word altercation used to describe a scuffle or fight in newspaper stories. So when I saw it used in a story last week to describe a noisy argument, I questioned it, only to be corrected by the wiser copy editors who surround me each night. Three dictionaries' definitions:
- OED: 1. The action of disputing in warmth or anger; wordy strife, wrangling. 2. A vehement or angry dispute, a noisy controversy, a wrangle.
- Merriam Webster Online: A noisy heated angry dispute; also : noisy controversy
- American Heritage Dictionary: A vehement quarrel.
The OED etymolgy: A French word with its origins in the Latin altercari, meaning to dispute with another, wrangle.