Rebut/Refute

In Rebuttal

The team was waiting to hear what would happen to sexual-assault accusations against one of its members, the article and headline reported. The bank of the headline said, “No charges yet as teammate refutes woman’s claim.” The accused player hadn’t yet refuted anything; there had been no finding on the truth of the charges. The word is stronger than “rebut,” with which it’s often confused. “Refute” means to disprove, conclusively. “Rebut” means simply to deny, or present argument against, an allegation. And more than half the time, “deny” will get the job done more naturally than “rebut.”

Has America ever needed a media watchdog more than now? Help us by joining CJR today.

Evan Jenkins wrote the Language Corner column for CJR through the Fall of 2007.