verb (used with object), re·fut·ed, re·fut·ing.

to prove to be false or erroneous, as an opinion or charge.
to prove (a person) to be in error.

Origin of refute

1505–15; < Latin refūtāre “to check, suppress, refute, rebut,” equivalent to re- re- + -fūtāre presumably, “to beat” (attested only with the prefixes con- and re-; cf. confute)
Related formsre·fut·a·ble [ri-fyoo-tuh-buhl, ref-yuh-tuh-] /rɪˈfyu tə bəl, ˈrɛf yə tə-/, adjectivere·fut·a·bil·i·ty, nounre·fut·a·bly, adverbre·fut·er, nounself-re·fut·ed, adjectiveself-re·fut·ing, adjectiveun·re·fut·a·ble, adjectiveun·re·fut·a·bly, adverbun·re·fut·ed, adjectiveun·re·fut·ing, adjective
Can be confuseddeny disapprove disprove rebut refutedispute refuterefudiate refute repudiate (see word story at refudiate)

Synonyms for refute

1. disprove, rebut. 1, 2. confute. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for refute

Contemporary Examples of refute

Historical Examples of refute

  • Unconsciously his whole practice began to refute his theories.

  • Traditions these which I mean not either to confirm with arguments of my own or to refute.

  • And his sense of truth did not permit him to try to refute her accusation.

    A Spirit in Prison

    Robert Hichens

  • I shall go back and refute that common scoffer, that caster of doubts.

    The Burning Spear

    John Galsworthy

  • Neither did I tell you just now to refute me, said Dionysodorus; for how can I tell you to do that which is not?

British Dictionary definitions for refute



(tr) to prove (a statement, theory, charge, etc) of (a person) to be false or incorrect; disprove
to deny (a claim, charge, allegation, etc)
Derived Formsrefutable (ˈrɛfjʊtəbəl, rɪˈfjuː-), adjectiverefutability (ˌrɛfjʊtəˈbɪlɪtɪ, rɪˌfjuː-), nounrefutably, adverbrefuter, noun

Word Origin for refute

C16: from Latin refūtāre to rebut


The use of refute to mean deny is thought by many people to be incorrect
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for refute

1510s, "refuse, reject," from Middle French réfuter (16c.) and directly from Latin refutare "drive back; rebut, disprove; repress, repel, resist, oppose," from re- "back" (see re-) + -futare "to beat," probably from PIE root *bhau- "to strike down" (see bat (n.1)).

Meaning "prove wrong" dates from 1540s. Since c.1964 linguists have frowned on the subtle shift in meaning towards "to deny," as it is used in connection with allegation. Related: Refuted; refuting.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper