Repute vs refute

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Repute and refute are two words that may be confusing. They are pronounced similarly and spelled similarly but have very different meanings. We will look at the definitions of the words repute and refute, where these words come from and some examples of their use in sentences.

Repute is the general public consensus about someone’s reputation, the opinion most people hold concerning someone’s make-up, personality, abilities, morals, etc. Repute may be used as a noun or a verb, related words are reputed, reputable. The word repute is derived from the Latin word reputare, which means to reckon, to think over. The term ill repute is often used to mean something that is held in low esteem, something that is not respected. Ill repute is often used to mean a person or business with a shady reputation, it was first used in the phrase house of ill repute to mean a brothel.

Refute means to prove that a statement or a concept is incorrect, to disprove an argument or idea. Related terms are refutes, refuted, refuting, refutal, refutable, refuter. Refute came into the English language in the 1540s to mean to prove wrong, from the Middle French word réfuter and the Latin word refutare meaning drive back; rebut, disprove, oppose. Remember, repute is the public’s opinion about someone’s reputation, refute means to disprove an idea.


As a journalist of repute, Saidi contributed immensely to journalism as an editor, columnist, mentor and proof-reader in a career spanning over 50 years, but it is not our tradition at the Bookstore to write obituaries, or eulogies. (The HErald)

Day in History: Woman convicted of running house of ill repute (The Post Bulletin)

‘The entire thing was planned’: Delta passengers refute YouTube prankster’s claims he was kicked off flight from London to New York for ‘speaking Arabic to his mother’ (The Daily Mail)