March 18, 2013
refute (verb)
\rih-FYOOT\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
: to prove wrong by argument or evidence : show to be false
How do you use it?
Copernicus refuted the idea that the sun revolved around the earth using mathematics and his own astronomical observations.
Are you a word wiz?

Which of the sentences below uses "refute" correctly?

No refutation necessary if you chose D. Sentence A uses the verb "refute" without an object (or intransitively), but "refute" is a verb that requires an object (that is, it's a transitive verb). Sentence B confuses "reject" with "refute": "refute" requires that you prove something wrong using evidence or by arguing. And Sentence C uses "refute" of people, which is not idiomatic--you refute things or ideas, not people. Sentence D does just that: it uses "refute" as a transitive verb to refer to proving an idea wrong by using evidence.
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