shift in "refute": another example

Alex Edelstein aedelste at OBERLIN.EDU
Wed May 13 03:33:00 UTC 2009

why would they ad deny the claim to the definition when prove to be false
already exists. your example
'refute the fact' is the exact usage of prove to be false. it proves the
claim false.

On Tue, May 12, 2009 at 11:21 PM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at>wrote:

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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
> Subject:      shift in "refute":  another example
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Crawl on ESPN SportsCenter:  "Roger Clemens refutes new book,
> _American Icon: The Fall of Roger Clemens and the Rise of Steroids in
> America's Pastime_".  And just how did Roger Clemens refute these
> well-researched charges levelled against him by four reporters in
> that book?  Apparently by claiming that the charges were false.
> The OED has for REFUTE:
> to prove (a person) to be in error  [not relevant here; no proof offered]
> to disprove, overthrow by argument, prove to be false [ditto]
> to demonstrate error [no demonstration, just assertion]
> Then it allows:
> Sometimes used erroneously to mean 'deny, repudiate'.
> [Yup, that's the one; it's been around since at least 1964.]
> Can "refute the fact" = 'deny the claim' be far behind?
> LH
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