Style matters #5: When to reject ‘refute’


The verb “refute” is often misused by writers. It means to disprove with evidence.

Often writers will use it when they really should have used “reject” (to refuse to accept, have, take, recognise, etc.) or the slightly stronger “rebut” (to argue against).

The differences are subtle, but important. So, the three words could be used correctly thus:

  • It will be the defence lawyer’s job to refute the claims before a judge.
  • The lawyer told the court the accused would reject any suggestion he had been involved in the fraud.
  • Police said they would rebut the accused’s bail application.


If you like what you’ve read here, you can see reporting4work’s similar posts at Style Matters


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