The verb refute is to prove that something is wrong. When the kids you're babysitting swear they brushed their teeth, you can refute their claim by presenting the dry toothbrushes.

Evidence and arguments are used to refute something. So are facts. For example, if children who eat chocolate before going to bed go straight to sleep, that refutes the idea that sugar keeps them up. Refute comes from the Latin refutare for "to check, suppress." A near synonym is confute, but save refute as an everyday word for proving something is false.

Definitions of refute
  1. verb
    overthrow by argument, evidence, or proof
    “The speaker refuted his opponent's arguments”
    synonyms: confound, rebut
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    contradict, controvert, oppose
    be resistant to
    give a defence or refutation of (a charge) or in (an argument)
    blackball, negative, veto
    vote against; refuse to endorse; refuse to assent
    dissent, protest, resist
    express opposition through action or words
    type of:
    disown, renounce, repudiate
    cast off
  2. verb
    prove to be false or incorrect
    synonyms: controvert, rebut
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    type of:
    confute, disprove
    prove to be false
Commonly confused words

rebut / refute

To rebut is to try to prove something isn’t true, but to refute is to actually prove it isn’t. Getting them mixed up won’t get you kicked out of the debate club, but it’s worth knowing the difference.

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