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disprove (v.)

"prove to be false or erroneous," late 14c., from Old French desprover "refute, contradict," from des- (see dis-) + prover "show; convince; put to the test" (see prove). Related: Disproved; disproving; disprovable. Middle English also had dispreven, from Old French desprover, with substitution of prefix.

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disproof (n.)

"proof to the contrary, confutation, refutation," 1530s, after disprove; see dis- + proof (n.). Earlier was dispreve (c. 1400), from dispreven (late 14c.), from Old French tonic stem of desprover.

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evince (v.)

c. 1600, "disprove, confute," from French évincer "disprove, confute," from Latin evincere "conquer, overcome subdue, vanquish, prevail over; elicit by argument, prove," from assimilated form of ex "out" (see ex-) + vincere "to overcome" (from nasalized form of PIE root *weik- (3) "to fight, conquer"). Meaning "show clearly" is late 18c. Not clearly distinguished from its doublet, evict, until 18c. Related: Evinced; evinces; evincing; evincible.

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refutation (n.)

1540s, refutacion, "act of disproving; overthrowing of an argument" (by countervailing argument or proof), from French réfutation (16c.) and directly from Latin refutationem (nominative refutatio) "disproof of a claim or argument," noun of action from past-participle stem of refutare ""drive back; rebut, disprove" (see refute).

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confute (v.)

"prove to be false or invalid, overthrow by evidence or stronger argument," 1520s, from French confuter, from Latin confutare "repress, check; disprove, restrain, silence," from assimilated form of com-, here perhaps an intensive prefix (see con-), + *futare "to beat," which is perhaps from PIE root *bhau- "to strike." Related: Confuted; confuting.

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confutation (n.)

"act of disproving or proving to be false," mid-15c., from Latin confutationem (nominative confutatio), noun of action from past-participle stem of confutare "repress, check; disprove, restrain, silence," from assimilated form of com-, here perhaps an intensive prefix (see con-), + *futare "to beat," which is perhaps from PIE root *bhau- "to strike." Confutation of the person in logic is argument ad hominem.

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disapprove (v.)

late 15c., "disprove, prove to be untrue," a sense now obsolete; as the reverse of approve, "regard with moral condemnation, think wrong or reprehensible," it is attested from 1640s. See dis- + approve. Related: Disapproved; disapproving.

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refute (v.)

1510s, "refuse, reject" someone or something, a sense now obsolete, from French réfuter (16c.) and directly from Latin refutare "to drive back; rebut, disprove; to repress, repel, resist, oppose," from re- "back" (see re-) + *futare "to beat" (from PIE root *bhau- "to strike").

The meaning "prove (someone) wrong, prove (someone) to be in error, disprove and overthrow by argument or countervailing proof" is from 1540s; of statements, opinions, etc., by 1590s. Many have frowned on the subtle shift in meaning towards "to deny," as the word has come to be used in connection with allegation. Related: Refuted; refuting.

For people who still use the word in its older sense it is rather shocking to hear on the B.B.C., which has a reputation for political impartiality, a news-report that Politician A has refuted the arguments of Politician B. [Charles L. Barber, "Linguistic Change in Present-day English," 1964]
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rebut (v.)

c. 1300, rebouten, "to thrust back," from Old French reboter, rebuter "to thrust back," from re- "back" (see re-) + boter "to strike, push," from a Germanic source (from Proto-Germanic buttan, from PIE root *bhau- "to strike").

Also in Middle English "assail (someone) with violent language, rebuke" (c. 1300); "repel in battle, repulse" (mid-14c.). The legalese sense of "try to disprove, refute by evidence or argument, bring counter-argument against" is attested by 1817. Related: Rebutted; rebutting.

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dispute (v.)

c. 1300, "engage in argumentation or discussion," from Old French desputer (12c.) "dispute, fight over, contend for, discuss" and directly from Latin disputare "weigh, examine, discuss, argue, explain," from dis- "separately, apart" (see dis-) + putare "to count, consider," originally "to prune, make clean, clear up" (from PIE root *pau- (2) "to cut, strike, stamp").

The Latin word was used in Vulgate in sense of "to argue, contend with words." In English, transitive sense of "argue against, attempt to disprove, deny" is from 1510s. Related: Disputable; disputed; disputing.

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