Refuted / Confuted

Pamela fluente

when you say that some empirical evidence
denies or disprove the truth of a statement,

which verb would you use to make up a sentence?

Refuted / Confuted
  • GrandBlank

    It appears that they are synonymous, according to this link. I myself have never used the word confute, but this is no reason for you not to use it. Your listeners/readers may be duly impressed. But to be understood widely, stick to refute.

    By the way, it also seems that evidence or a person citing such evidence may refute a statement or theory.

    New evidence refutes the widely held belief.
    The scientist refuted the long held theory with new evidence.

    Maybe others can back me up on this -- or refute my position!

    Good luck!


    Senior Member
    You may refute or confute an argument, but I believe you cannot refute a person. For that, you would need to use contradict or another verb. Confute has been around since at least 1529, and is very rare in normal usage. Most people would have little idea what it means, other than that provided by context.


    Senior Member
    Australia - English
    I always thought confute was used in a way like when a law is contradicted by a higher law therefore rendering the first one moot. Please correct me if this is incorrect because it was just my impression. I also agree with cuchuflete, in that you can't confute a person. (by the way, I was always taught never to use the word "like" like I just did!)


    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I would use refute, because confute would not come into my mind. I had to look it up.

    It seems that refute and confute are in many uses identical.
    Refute - 2. To prove (a person) to be in error, to confute.

    Confute - 1. trans. To prove (a person) to be wrong; to overcome or silence in argument; to convict of error by argument or proof.
    2. To prove (an argument or opinion) to be false, invalid, or defective; to disprove, refute.


    Pardon me for sounding defensive ;) but I wonder if I've been misunderstood. I didn't say that a person may be refuted but that either a person or evidence may do the refuting of a statement, theory, or belief. (see above on this page) What I should ask explicitly for is confirmation that this is so. Is it so? :) I've used it both ways, with no challenge from teachers.