How can I resist jumping into the fray over Sarah Palin’s use of the word “refudiate”?
Here’s the notorious tweet as it originally appeared:
Ground Zero Mosque supporters, doesn’t it stab you in the heart as it does our throughout the heartland? Peaceful Muslims, please refudiate.”
Here is the tweet with which it was replaced:
Peaceful New Yorkers, pls refute the Ground Zero mosque plan if you believe catastrophic pain caused @ Twin Towers site is too raw, too real.
I was amazed and delighted that a mere word could cause such a stir. Within minutes, it seems, we were informed that the word had been used once before, in 1984, by science-fiction writer John Sladke. Looking up Sladke, of whom I’d never heard, I learned that he wrote satire. That could explain his use of “refudiate.”
The word is a portmanteau that seems to combine refute with repudiate. The “corrected” tweet uses refute where reject would be more appropriate.
“Refudiate” is an amusing word and one which, like “misunderestimate” is going to be used a lot in jest. It does not, however, seem to bring any new meaning or connotation to the language.
repudiate: To cast off, disown (a person or thing previously claimed as one’s own or associated with oneself).
Repudiate is a transitive verb. You repudiate something or someone you no longer wish to be associated with. You can repudiate a debt, a wife, or a belief.
…this paper argues that it may well be in poor people’s interests for their governments to repudiate debt.
It’s time to repudiate this doctrine and satisfy U.S. energy needs without reliance on military intervention.
Will NAACP repudiate their own racist comments about Kenneth Gladney, caught on tape?
J.C. Watts says Christians should repudiate extremist groups
refute: To prove (something) to be false, esp. by means of argument or debate.
Refute is also a transitive verb. You refute an argument or a doctrine or a claim by offering evidence to disprove it.
Does Neuroscience Refute Free Will?
Trademark Owners Often Can Refute the First-Sale Doctrine
The major evidence that refutes Mr. Stinnett’s claim … comes from archival documents that were declassified in 1999…
Vice provost Dr Patrick Prendergast told the news provider the plans [to include non-traditional students] refuted the perception among some of TCD as an “elite” institution.
Gerdemann hopes to refute the continually underlined idea that no one can contest the Tour de France without doping…
reject: To refuse to recognize, acquiesce in, submit to, adopt, or allow…; to refuse to believe (a statement, etc.), to discard from consideration.
NZ Government must reject whaling plan
Belmonte, Lakas reject plan to slash pork barrel
Scotland must reject dependency culture
Germany Will Probably Reject Opel Aid Request, Lawmaker Says
By all means, have fun with “refudiate.” Just don’t use it in your serious writing when what you mean is repudiate, refute, or reject.