Sarah Palin may have been on the receiving end of quite a bit of mockery when she inadvertentlycoined the term "refudiate" last July, but now the former Alaska governor is getting her due - kind of. The New Oxford American Dictionaryhas named "refudiate" 2010's Word of the Year.
Surely, the boss helped ensconce "refudiate" in the American lexicon with his editorial "Refudiate Liberalism!"
Just before noon on Sunday, July 18, 2010, Sarah Palin enriched the English language. Referring to the planned Islamic center near the 9/11 site in New York, she tweeted: “Ground Zero Mosque supporters: doesn’t it stab you in the heart, as it does ours throughout the heartland? Peaceful Muslims, pls refudiate.”
Presumably, Palin was wavering between “refute” and “repudiate,” and, in the heat of the tweeting moment, typed or BlackBerried or iPhoned or texted the new amalgam, “refudiate.” Pedants in the blogosphere got all huffy. Palin decided to double down. A few hours later, she follow-up-tweeted: “English is a living language. Shakespeare liked to coin new words too. Got to celebrate it!”
So let us celebrate the new term “refudiate.”
Not that there’s anything wrong with “refute.” It means, according to Webster’s Third, “to overthrow by argument, evidence, or proof; prove to be false or erroneous.” Nor is there anything wrong with “repudiate,” meaning “to cast off . . . to refuse to accept as having rightful authority . . . to refuse approval or belief to.” And they’re distinct. To refute is primarily an intellectual act; a thinker refutes a claim or an argument. To repudiate is a practical or political act; a political party repudiates a sect that holds a discredited (and perhaps refuted) argument. A refutation that isn’t followed by a repudiation is just talk. A repudiation that doesn’t include a refutation is just arbitrary action.
The case for linguistic innovation is this: We need a word that captures and conjoins the meanings of refutation and repudiation. And we need it now. To save the country from the ravages of contemporary liberalism, we have to refute liberal arguments and see liberal politicians repudiated at the polls.
So the conservative agenda is, in a word, refudiation. Indeed, given the dramatic moment at which we have arrived, one might say that we now have the prospect of a grand refudiation of liberalism.