I happened on this odd word (from Latin redarguo ‘refute’) because it’s the guide word at the top left of p. 1042 of Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate (11th edition), which defines it as ‘confute, disprove,’ calling it archaic; the OED has more to say:

1. To blame, reprove (a person or persons, an action, etc.). Also const. of, for. Obs. […]

2. To confute (a person) by argument. (In later use only Sc.; cf. next sense.) […]

3. To refute or disprove (an argument, statement, etc.). (Since c1700 only Sc., chiefly Law.) […]

4. absol. or intr. To reprove or refute; to employ argument for the purpose of refuting.”

A few citations:
1877 BLACKIE Wise Men 327 All these Love’s vouchers stand, beyond the craft Of sophist to redargue.
1885 Law Rep. 10 App. Cases 383 note, This fact afforded a degree of real evidence which no parole testimony could redargue.
1641 J. JACKSON True Evang. T. I. 55 Men love truth when it shines, but not when it redargues.

Next time you present someone with a triumphant conclusion, you can top it off by saying (in a thick Scottish burr, if you like) “Redargue that!”

Update (Oct. 2022). This entry has been updated (Third Edition, September 2009); here’s the new list of senses with a few cites:

1.a. transitive. To confute, refute (a person) by argument. Obsolete (Scottish after 17th cent.).
a1425 J. Wyclif Sel. Eng. Wks. (1869) I. 79 Rekke we not of argumentis þat sophistis maken, þat we ben redargued, grantynge þat we denyen. […]

b. transitive. To refute, disprove (an argument, statement, etc.). Chiefly Scots Law after 17th cent.
1613 R. Dallington Aphorismes Ciuill & Militarie iv. xxiv. 255 Marchione Treuisano a man of reputed vertue and iudgement, redargues what is said, and stands for the negatiue. […]

c. intransitive. To present a refutation of a person, statement, etc. Obsolete.
1613 R. Dallington Aphorismes Ciuill & Militarie ii. viii. 94 Guy-Anthony Vespucci redargues, answers euery point fully. […]

d. transitive. To argue (a case, question, etc.) in opposition to another person. rare.
1652 W. Ames Saints Security 8 When Job’s three Friends had spent much time in arguing and redarguing the case with Job, Elihu..speaketh after this manner. […]

2. transitive. To censure, reprove (a person, an action, etc.). Frequently with for, of. Obsolete.
c1475 (▸?c1400) Apol. Lollard Doctr. (1842) 6 Poule aȝenstod him in þe face and redarguid him, for he was reprouable.
1752 J. Smith Portrait of Old Age (ed. 3) v. 176 Whoever he is that mourns merely upon the account of the party deceased, he doth necessarily redargue himself of unbelief.

I like the careful disentangling of uses; note that the original first sense is now the second.


  1. There is a verb ”redargüir” in portuguese, but it’s something more like ”rebutting” or merely ”answering back”.

  2. I like that middle -d- when it crops up, also in ‘redolent’ and ‘redact’.

  3. It’s so Ciceronian, isn’t it?
    Snippet view, which we all love to hate, is almost gnomic with One may redargue a presumption, but one cannot redargue a fiction.

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