Definition of refute in English:



  • 1 Prove (a statement or theory) to be wrong or false; disprove.

    ‘these claims have not been convincingly refuted’
    • ‘Some Austrian economists have tried to refute this argument by denying the very existence of an income effect.’
    • ‘Remember, he already knows the facts that I use to refute these accusations.’
    • ‘I haven't had much success refuting their accusations.’
    • ‘That story alone would appear to refute the accusations of those who have denounced Sonia as a gold-digger, capitalising on the vulnerability of Orwell when he was dying.’
    • ‘Dembski's latest attempt to refute Darwinian theory is by arguing that in a closed system, information can only decrease.’
    • ‘It is for the defence to search for evidence to refute the accusation's charges.’
    • ‘Such restraint certainly appears to refute any accusation of aerial terrorism and seems almost magnanimous compared to the British propensity to bomb any suspicious activity.’
    • ‘This argument can be refuted by deriving a contradiction.’
    • ‘He thus single-handedly refutes the Platonic theory of evil as ignorance of the good.’
    • ‘Most incorrect or incoherent claims are easily refuted by experience or logic but religious concepts are different.’
    • ‘To refute the accusations, Ma went to Xianyang 215 Hospital for a hymen test on February 6.’
    • ‘Second, the evidence refutes the notion that the underclass syndrome is ironclad.’
    • ‘Naturally, the panelists are keen to refute the various theories and game plans that dominate the thinking of the ruling establishment in Washington.’
    • ‘In these papers, where he was largely concerned with general philosophical problems of time and space, he adopted a quixotic standpoint in his attempt to refute the theory as being logically untenable.’
    • ‘This process of using observation and experiment to refute false theories does not rely on induction in any way.’
    • ‘As with all research, evaluations of these hypotheses will not confirm or refute associated theories but may allow refinement of theories.’
    • ‘It is the nullification of public discourse, for how can one refute accusations grounded in ethnicity?’
    • ‘If they are not correct, they have to be contradicted or refuted by evidence.’
    • ‘Fortunately, I do not have to refute the labor theory of value, it's already been done, see Human Action by Mises.’
    • ‘To be useful to scholars a proposition must be falsifiable - there must be something which could in theory refute the statement.’
    disprove, prove false, prove wrong, prove to be false, prove to be wrong, show to be false, show to be wrong, rebut, confute, give the lie to, demolish, explode, debunk, drive a coach and horses through, discredit, invalidate
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    1. 1.1Prove that (someone) is wrong.
      ‘his voice challenging his audience to rise and refute him’
      • ‘Instead, to date, Gibson has refused to fully refute his father.’
      • ‘I'm going to refute Bruce in three easy steps, first with some history, second with some analogy, and lastly with a bit of philosophy.’
      • ‘That's America, a place where Cindy Sheehan can say whatever the hell she wants and where you are free to refute her.’
      • ‘But instead of trying to refute what Chomsky actually says and writes, Morley instead decides to refute the man himself.’
      • ‘But one cannot refute Howard by suggesting that his intervention somehow ‘disrupts’ the study of history.’
      • ‘Literature refutes both people who think gender should be abolished and people who have overly-narrow views of womanhood or manhood.’
      • ‘Such achievements, and the principles of common purpose that drove them, should be used to refute Europe's sceptics everywhere.’
      • ‘Robert Nozick effectively refuted Rawls in making the ethical basis of libertarianism plain, but even the necessity of refuting him is doubtful if he fails by his own line of reasoning.’
      • ‘Bitterly, he murmurs how he should have refuted the women and explained his innocence.’
      • ‘This is an enormous leap, for the bulk of Prof. Budziszewski's arguments aim to refute opponents of capital punishment.’
      • ‘It is one of history's great ironies that the man who publicly refuted him was none other than Henry VIII, rewarded with the title of Fidei Defensor - Defender of the Faith - in 1521.’
      • ‘They have five or six people running around doing talk shows and trying to refute me and trying to besmirch me.’
      • ‘It's almost as if Bush was daring people to refute him, knowing full well that it was such an illogical claim that it would make people uncomfortable to call him on it.’
      • ‘It is clearly intended to refute those who denied what is now known as the doctrine of the resurrection.’
      • ‘In addition, Pim did an awful job of refuting me.’
      • ‘We set out over the past year to refute those people who said we couldn't do more than one thing at a time.’
      • ‘But I think, there's plenty of evidence to refute him on the facts.’
      • ‘And it is because he followed these instructions with such urbanity, wit, and sophistication, Hale argues, that Milton provided a particular pleasure to his readers and was so successful in refuting his opponent.’
      • ‘Well, Neil, now we've got somebody on the other side to refute you.’
      • ‘The task of historical materialism in Russia is not to refute the enemy but to destroy him!’
    2. 1.2Deny or contradict (a statement or accusation)
      ‘a spokesman totally refuted the allegation of bias’
      • ‘When Mahendran confronted them, they were annoyed and refuted his accusation.’
      • ‘But again, this has not been substantiated, on the contrary it was flatly refuted by one of the people we spoke to.’
      • ‘The Cosla group, however, refutes any accusations of unfair play, claiming that McConnell and the rest of the group are simply showing ‘foresight’ in setting out local government's views.’
      • ‘Before Taiden could even begin to refute these accusations, the crowd turned on him.’
      • ‘He was scheduled to hold a press conference in Bangkok later Saturday to refute accusations by the Cambodian government that he incited the riots.’
      • ‘Waterford Against Racism vehemently refutes the outrageous accusations made by Minister of Justice, John O'Donoghue in the past week.’
      • ‘After they went public the minister refuted the accusation.’
      • ‘Pasiya strongly refutes these allegations, accusing some of these players of ill discipline.’
      • ‘The students' protest was refuted by IPB spokesman Agus Lelana, who said the institute would support the administration's effort to ease congestion in the area.’
      • ‘He also refuted suggestions that a resident was not given daily walks as required.’
      • ‘The Republicans also refuted the accusations that The Joker was part of a vast right-wing conspiracy.’
      • ‘The accusations have been refuted by K & WVR bosses, who said figures released this week showed that the number of people travelling on the five-mile line was continuing to increase.’
      • ‘As an experienced Real Estate Agent I strongly refute the claims made in this letter.’
      • ‘We totally refute any suggestion that these dismissals are linked to anything other than a serious breach of discipline.’
      • ‘Responding to concerns in the Northern Isles, NorthLink have refuted accusations that it is seeking to cut jobs in the islands.’
      • ‘Su's accusation was refuted by city government officials, who said the construction completion date had been officially postponed to the end of August next year.’
      • ‘I refute Mr Strausbaugh's accusations but I applaud his championing of Ballard.’
      • ‘Kenyon refuted all these accusations and was clearly annoyed they have been made public.’
      • ‘Indeed recently, Egypt has been keen to refute accusations that it has lost its influence in Africa and that it perceives Africa as a fourth priority, after the Middle East, the US, and Europe.’
      • ‘Sheikh Hamad refuted those accusations, saying that all the children were Sudanese who entered the country legally and were accompanied by their parents or a guardian.’
      deny, reject, repudiate, rebut, declare to be untrue
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The core meaning of refute is ‘prove a statement or theory to be wrong’, as in attempts to refute Einstein's theory. In the second half of the 20th century a more general sense developed, meaning simply ‘deny’, as in I absolutely refute the charges made against me. Traditionalists object to this newer use as an unacceptable degradation of the language, but it is widely encountered


Mid 16th century: from Latin refutare repel, rebut.