bone of contention, the

bone of contention

Fig. the subject or point of an argument; an unsettled point of disagreement. We've fought for so long that we've forgotten what the bone of contention is. The question of a fence between the houses has become quite a bone of contention.
See also: bone, contention, of

bone of contention

Main issue of a disagreement; something to quarrel about. For example, Grandfather's will was a bone of contention for the whole family. This expression alludes to two dogs fighting (contending) over a single bone. In slightly different guise, bone of dissension, it was used figuratively in the 16th century and took its present form in the early 1700s.
See also: bone, contention, of

bone of contention

The subject of a dispute.
See also: bone, contention, of

bone of contention, the

The central point of a dispute. The phrase alludes to two dogs fighting over a single bone, and originally was a bone of dissension (“This became a bone of dissension between these deere friends,” William Lambarde, 1576). The current cliché dates from the early eighteenth century, although the metaphor of dogs fighting over a bone had been transferred to human quarrels long before (“The devil hath cast a bone to set stryfe between you,” John Heywood’s Proverbs, 1562).
See also: bone, of
References in classic literature ?
‘twill be an evil day to ye both, when ye first turn the skin of so paceable an animal as a sheep into a bone of contention, The lad is wilcome to his drink for nothing, until his shoulther will bear the rifle agin.”