figures of refutation
figures of speech
groupings index

Refuting, as a basic rhetorical mode, has been formalized within the arrangement of the classical oration (see Arrangement: Refutation). It is also realized as a general mode of argumentation within certain topics of invention (The Impossible, Contradiction, Law). Within rhetorical pedagogy, refutation has itself been a standard preliminary exercise (see Pedagogy: The Progymnasmata: Refutation), and is part of more advanced argumentation in which both sides of an issue are debated (see Progymnasmata: Thesis or Theme and in utrumque partes).

Of course refuation can happen generally and specifically in a variety of circumstances, as illustrated by the following figures specific to refuting, rejecting, or denying:

  • accismus
    A feigned refusal of that which is earnestly desired.
  • anthypophora
    One asks and then immediately answers one's own questions (or raises and then settles imaginary objections)
  • anticategoria
    A retort in which one turns the very accusation made by one's adversary back against him.
  • antirrhesis
    Rejecting reprehensively the opinion or authority of someone.
  • apodioxis (rejectio)
    Rejecting of someone or something (such as the adversary's argument) as being impertinent, needless, absurd, false, or wicked.
  • apophasis / expeditio
    The rejection of several reasons why a thing should or should not be done and affirming a single one, considered most valid.
  • diasyrmus
    Rejecting an argument through ridiculous comparison.
  • dicaeologia
    Admitting what's charged against one, but excusing it by necessity.
  • elenchus
    A logical refutation.
  • erotema
    To affirm or deny a point strongly by asking it as a question.
  • excitatio
    To excite an audience, especially out of a stupor or boredom, using (among other proposed strategies) a digression that denies or prohibits something.
  • litotes
    Deliberate understatement, often achieved by way of denying the opposite of something.
  • metastasis
    Denying and turning back on your adversaries arguments used against you.
  • procatalepsis
    Refuting anticipated objections.

Related Topics of Invention

See Also


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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Gideon O. Burton, Brigham Young University
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