Pleonastic sesquipedalian neologisms
Politicians and bureaucrats seem inclined, more than most people, to invent new words, but this takes the cake: ‘Refudiating’ Palin brings Shakespeare into Twitter exchange:
A Twitter posting Sunday from former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, in which she claimed common ground with Shakespeare, started the blogosphere’s week in rollicking fashion.
Palin tweeted that ‘peaceful Muslims’ should ‘refudiate’ the New York mosque being built near Ground Zero. This prompted plenty of retweets at her expense — ‘refudiate,’ of course, is not a word.
After deleting the offending tweet, Palin replaced it with another, calling on ‘peaceful New Yorkers’ to ‘refute the Ground Zero mosque plan’ — although the word she was apparently looking for was ‘repudiate.’
That won’t, of course, stop the misuse of “refute” — again, mostly by politicians and sycophantic journalists who take their words at face value.
I’ve read dozens of news reports saying that politicians have “refuted” something when they haven’t refuted it at all. All they have actually done is deny it, whereas to refute something means to prove conclusively that it is false.