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Re: Pedantry (was Re: Refutations and the Middle J)

In a message dated 2/11/99 4:29:29 PM Eastern Standard Time,
jjackson@interalpha.co.uk writes:

<< 'd like to say yes, but I sort of see "rebut" as a definite though
 potentially temporary block.  Also, my dictionary gives it as "to disprove;
 to refute".  It gives refute as "to disprove; to deny", contra list & modern
 science. >>

The joys of on-line dictionaries:

re*but (verb) re*but*ted; re*but*ting

[Middle English, from Middle French reboter, from re- + boter to butt -- more
at BUTT]

verb transitive

First appeared 14th Century

 1 : to drive or beat back : REPEL

 2 a : to contradict or oppose by formal legal argument, plea, or
countervailing proof

   b : to expose the falsity of : REFUTE

verb intransitive

 : to make or furnish an answer or counter proof

 -- re*but*ta*ble (adjective)

Aside from the slip in 2b, I think Merriam Webster has it right.
By the way, to gainsay is to deny.  Counterargument exceeds deny.

If many think refute doesn't imply permanent elimination of an idea, etc. then
the word has developed a new, specialized meaning.