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Sarah Palin Refudiates Critics

Updated on August 27, 2011
Sarah Palin holding a T-shirt related to the Gravina Island Bridge
Sarah Palin holding a T-shirt related to the Gravina Island Bridge | Source

Has Sarah Palin had the last laugh on the bunch of pointy heads and folks from the lame stream media who poked fun at her malapropism after she used the word “refudiate” in July 2010? Has she scored a linguistic victory over China, even?

Palin modestly compared herself to Shakespeare noting that he was well known for coining new words too. However, she did eventually own up to being mistaken comparing her misuse of a word to a “Bushism”. But she should have told everyone not to "misundersetimate me" since on November 15 “refudiate” was hailed as the dictionary’s word of the year.

On July 19, a Guardian blog had lamented that Palin had not consulted the Guardian’s style guide where its entry on refute says: "Use this much abused word only when an argument is disproved; otherwise contest, deny, rebut." Daily Writing Tips too tries to warn its readers of the perils of confusing “rebut” and “refute”. Palin was clearly on hazardous ground when trying to rally New Yorkers to support her position and, dare-I-say, rebuff her opponents.

In August I’d looked at the Chinese Daily online after hearing about it from a friend teaching English as a Second Language in China. It seemed that Sarah had a strange bed-fellow since the newspaper too had obviously ignored the Guardian’s style guide by writing: "Chinese Experts Rebute Pentagon Cyber Report." (The article that was linked to the headline mysteriously disappeared from the paper's website only hours after this article was posted. The link is now to the paper in the event any readers are curious about what one of the most prominent Chinese newspapers take is on the news. A few hours later: The headline has reappeared on the Chinese Daily's site; this time the spelling has been corrected! However, my congratulations to the paper, along with four other comments remain unedited, can be accessed through the comments link and are worth a quick read in themselves.)

I had to write a congratulatory letter to the Editor and said the headline introduced the interesting word "rebute”. I went on to make the point that if a word is readily adopted in print, it will eventually end up in a dictionary.

I’d worried that my comment might be regarded as critical of an editor or flippant rather than a congratulatory but slightly humorous comment on a word that expressed a subtle shade of meaning that is not properly incorporated in any other existing word. (I thought it a worthy competitor to Sarah's contribution to the language but kept this to myself.)

My fears of censorship were unfounded, and the letter eventually appeared on their website sounding a slightly odd note among comments that loudly complained of American hegemony.

”Rebute”, hasn’t caught on in the way I’d hoped to warm our relationship with China whereas “refudiate” has made it into the Oxford American Dictionary. In the war of words it’s Palin: 1 and China: 0. Given the political climate in the U.S., I’m surprised that more hasn’t been made of Sarah’s victory.


Normal human politicians would have thought that their political careers ended prior to the dawning of 2011 after Palin-like gaffes; however, Sarah, unfazed, continues to refudiate her critics necessitating this update to an article originally written in early December 2010.

On February 17, Palin, answered questions posed by the by Kevin Law, president of the Long Island Association, before some one thousand people. She didn't rule out being a presidential candidate. When asked to describe the profile of an ideal candidate, her inimitable if slightly predictable response, reported in The Boulder Weekly, was that she would be a mother with experience in both politics and business — such as herself. It's the kind of rhetoric that makes her supporters love her, her critics see red and comedic writers green.

Despite the the slightly humorous tone attempted while writing about Ms. Palin, I've always felt that both Democrats and pundits have consistently underrated her chances of running as the Republican presidential candidate in 2012.

Keep watching this space. She's refudiated her critics before and might well do so again!


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    • Sembj profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Thanks for your comment phdast7. Just before coming to your comment I was having a conversation about the biases built into history and used WWII as an example. I look forward to reading your articles.


    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 

      6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Good Hub. Clever, funny, well-written.

      Whatever are we to do with Sarah Pa;in? But you are right, the comedians and pundits love it every time she opens her mouth and something crazy or misguided or mis-pronounced comes cheerily flying out. :)

      You mentioned history as one of your interests. I have written a number os scholarly hubs on aspects of World War II.

    • Sembj profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      GNelson, I could not agree more with your comment. It is as if Palin has an intuitive sense of how to use the media. Thanks for your thoughts. Sem

    • GNelson profile image


      7 years ago from Florida

      I am not a Sara Palin fan but she does know how to use the media.

    • Sembj profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Thanks for the comment. As a newcomer to HubPages and the newly made Internet, it means a great deal to get some positive feedback and a sense that there's real people bravely struggling through my first two articles. I'm finding the initial experience of writing on HubPages quite addictive and find it eating into both my sleep and quality time with my wife. I suspect I'm not the first person to get into this kind of trouble!

      I used to own a Webster's Dictionary, the largest, and I seem to remember that it contained 3/4 million words. I believe the count is now over a million words. The Oxford American Dictionary use of Palin's contribution for "Word of the Year" earned them a great deal of free publicity. More dictionaries will probably be sold as a result so perhaps I should have given her more credit!

    • Tusitala Tom profile image

      Tom Ware 

      7 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      It's my opinion that most of the 'new words' and phrases that creep into our language are thought up by people who don't have a sufficient grasp of what are already available. Half a million words, isn't it? 500,000! And yet so many today can only manage, "It's cool, man."

      After thirty years of such wordage, I still don't know whether it's 'cool to be hot,', or 'hot to be cool.'

      Thank God there are still a few real 'Wordsmiths' around.

    • ethel smith profile image

      Ethel Smith 

      7 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Hoe confundiddlyundcious. Oo I like that word

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      haha fun post Spencer... nicely done!

      hope you get a fewe more readers- I'm sure you will!

      I do like "Refudiate" and "rebute". Poor Sarah Palin, though... she is cheery to the point of concavity, in the world of the pointy heads...


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