Repudiate and refudiate

  • Repudiate and refudiate are words that are close in spelling and pronunciation and may be considered confusables. Confusables is a catch-all term for words that are often misused or confused; there are many confusing words in the English language that may be easily confused for each other in spoken English and written English. Two words or more than two words, even if they are common words, may be confused because they are similar in spelling, similar in pronunciation, or similar in meaning. These commonly confused words may be pronounced the same way or pronounced differently or may be spelled the same way or spelled differently, or may have different meanings or have almost different meanings; they may be homophones, homonyms, heteronyms, homographs, words that have a similar spelling, or words that have a similar meaning. Sometimes, confusables are word constructions that are not proper English words. Confusables often confound native speakers of English, and they may be difficult for ESL students and those learning English to understand. Confusables are misspelled, misused words that have a different meaning from one another and may be nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, or any other part of speech. Spelling rules in English are not dependable; there are many exceptions. Often, the best procedure to learn new words and commonly misused words and commonly confused words in English is to make word lists of English words for the learner to study to understand the difference in spelling and meaning. To learn new words in the English language, one must not only study a spelling words list, one must know the meaning of words in one’s vocabulary word list. It is also helpful to memorize how to correctly pronounce words and to know the etymology of new words or where they are derived from. A spell checker will rarely find this type of mistake in English vocabulary, so do not rely on spell check but instead, learn to spell and learn the definitions of words. Even a participant in a spelling bee like the National Spelling Bee will ask for an example of a confusable in a sentence, so that she understands which word she is to spell by using context clues. Confusables are often used in wordplay like puns. We will examine the different meanings of the confusables repudiate and refudiate, the word origins of the terms, and some examples of their English usage in sentences.


    Repudiate means to reject, to refuse to acknowledge, to disown, or to deny the veracity of something. Repudiate is a transitive verb, which is a verb that takes an object. Related words are repudiates, repudiated, repudiating. The word repudiate is derived from the Latin word repudiatus, meaning to divorce or disdain.


    Refudiate is not a proper English word. Some people have used refudiate to mean to reject; it is a portmanteau of the words repudiate and refute. The word was coined by Sarah Palin in a Tweet sent in 2010; the Oxford English Dictionary made refudiate the word of the year; however, the word does not appear in the dictionary.


    If Joe Biden wants to produce a constructive record in foreign policy, he needs to repudiate much of the Obama‐​Biden administration’s foreign policy legacy. (Cato Institute)

    Lastly, we must identify, call out, and repudiate any and all false information, lies and fiction with which the Republican Party and its allies infect the American political bloodstream. (Washington Post)

    Venezuela’s opposition is organizing a popular consultation to repudiate the government of President Nicolas Maduro, a process expected to be held around the Dec. 6 congressional election that the opposition is boycotting. (Reuters)

    Refudiate: Adding this word to the English language simply because a part-time politician lacks a spell checker on her cellphone is an action that needs to be repudiated. (Topeka Capital-Journal)

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