EtymologyFrom Anglo-French, "to beat, rebuke"
Examples and Observations:
- "Strictly interpreted, refute means 'to overcome opposing evidence and reasoning by proving it to be false or erroneous.' The rebuttal, strictly interpreted, refers to argumentation meant 'to overcome opposing evidence and reasoning by introducing other evidence and reasoning that will destroy its effect.' In practice, the terms refutation and rebuttal are used interchangeably, except that the second speech by each advocate in an academic debate is designated as the rebuttal speech."
(Austin J. Freeley and David L. Steinberg, Argumentation and Debate: Critical Thinking for Reasoned Decision Making. Cengage, 2008)
- "Editorial writer E.J. Dionne provides a good example of a rebuttal. Prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, some people had suggested that opposing the invasion was unpatriotic because it meant opposing the president of the United States. Dionne rejected that suggestion. If that were the case, Dionne argued, 'then Abraham Lincoln was an unpatriotic appeaser for opposing the Mexican War as a young congressman in the 1840s.'
"Dionne's response is a rebuttal, a counter-argument intended to point out a weakness of the original argument. Dionne specifically targets the idea that opposing a president is unpatriotic, by setting up the parallel case of Abraham Lincoln's opposition to a war proposed by a president. He shows by this parallel case that 'opposing a war,' at least in one important instance, does not equal 'unpatriotic.'"
(James A. Herrick, Argumentation: Understanding and Shaping Arguments. Strata, 2007)