Opinion: Sarah Palin’s ‘refudiate’ named dictionary’s word of the year


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The day after 5 million viewers watched Sarah Palin’s reality TV show and in the same week she announced a nationwide book tour, Alaska’s high-profile former governor has gained some further unexpected publicity.

And get this, it’s from some seriously intelligent wordsmiths, who chose the famous –- or infamous -- Palin phrase “refudiate” as their word of the year.

The made-up word tweeted and deleted in minutes on Palin’s Twitter feed was announced Monday as the year’s best new word by the New Oxford American Dictionary.


The elision of “refute” and “repudiate” Palin tweeted in a post in July lit up the social-media world and was even featured in headlines in the national news media. It follows last year’s Facebook-themed word of the year: Unfriend.

Palin’s full tweet read:

‘Ground Zero Mosque supporters: doesn’t it stab you in the heart, as it does ours throughout the heartland? Peaceful Muslims, pls refudiate.’

Palin has more than 300,000 Twitter followers and more than 2.4 million Facebook fans and on Sunday debuted her reality TV show, ‘Sarah Palin’s Alaska.’

Famous for her folksy diction and writing talking points on her hands, Palin’s new-found literary recognition will tickle and torment her supporters and critics in equal measure.

The NOAD editors wrote in a release: “From a strictly lexical interpretation of the different contexts in which Palin has used ‘refudiate,’ we have concluded that neither ‘refute’ nor ‘repudiate’ seems consistently precise, and that ‘refudiate’ more or less stands on its own, suggesting a general sense of ‘reject.’”

The final definition reads:

refudiate verb used loosely to mean “reject”: she called on them to refudiate the proposal to build a mosque. [origin — blend of refute and repudiate]


-- Craig Howie

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