Arguing students are not always something teachers want to hear in their classroom. However, the original meaning of the word argue is to give one’s opinion on a view to someone with a differing view. In this use of the word argue, the meaning is closer to the meaning of the word debate. Thus, the word argue has both an emotional connotation as well as a civil and professional one.
Students may encounter both uses of the word in the stories they read in the classroom. They may read a narrative where an individual is seen arguing with their classmates, or maybe they will find an expository text on differing political view points that spark arguments among passionate people.
The word argue originally came from the Latin word argutari for prattle, and the Latin word arguer, meaning ‘make clear, prove, accuse.’ Argue, as in to explain the reasons for a view in a debate, has a Spanish cognate—argumentar. To argue, as in to be in a disagreement or quarrel, does not have a Spanish cognate.
Argue has two common meanings in use. The subtle difference may be hard for some students to detect. The key is in the emotion behind the argument and the topic of discussion. An argument between siblings and friends tends to include barbs of a more personal nature, such as “Timmy hurt my feelings when...” An argument in a debate or in a court of law tend to include barbs that are more fact based, such as, “With 90% of the school population living more than 5 miles from the school, it is important to provide school bus pick-ups and drop-offs.”