Can I speak of fighting for a discussion where nobody is swearing, saying insults, or using violence?

Imagine two people (A and B) are talking, and A asks B what she meant when she said something. As result, B reminds A what he said in a different, unrelated situation, and A says he said that because something else B said before.

I would rather say it is a discussion, or a debate. I noticed that an American friend of mine would tend to use fighting for such cases.

Is fighting the right word? Can the word be used when two people are exchanging instant messages with each other?


You can use fighting (gerund or continuous verb) or a fight (noun) to mean a verbal argument, especially between friends, family members, or romantic partners. It is a little bit casual, but extremely common in spoken English, at least North American English.

The first two expressions Felix has suggested (heated debate or rapid exchange) would be more appropriate in political, workplace, or similar contexts. Rapid exchange is not a common expression (a Google search pulls up mostly scientific contexts), so is not so useful. His third suggestion, argument (the noun form of the verb argue) could be used in any context, and is more formal than fight/fighting.

My above comments would apply to any medium: face-to-face or text message, for example.

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You have a choice here:

Heated Debate: where the parties are debating according to proper etiquette but it is clear they are holding back the desire to just hit their opponent.

As the red rushed to their faces, it was clear this was going be a heated debate.

Rapid Exchange: where the parties are very quickly exchanging their disagreements in order to try and catch the other off (this can be used in other contexts too)

The previously calm debate quickly turned into a rapid exchange of points and rhetoric, with no time to properly consider their opponent's words.

Argument: I didn't know if this was too obvious to list or not, but this is where the two parties clearly disagree with eachother and try to overpower the other with their words.

It became clear that this was no longer a civil discussion, this was a full blown argument.

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