de·​bunk | \ (ˌ)dē-ˈbəŋk How to pronounce debunk (audio) \
debunked; debunking; debunks

Definition of debunk

transitive verb

: to expose the sham (see sham entry 1 sense 2) or falseness of debunk a legend

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Other Words from debunk

debunker noun

Did You Know?

If you guessed that "debunk" has something to do with bunk, meaning "nonsense," you're correct. We started using "bunk" at the beginning of the 20th century. (It derives from a remark made by a Buncombe county, N.C., congressman.) A little less than 25 years later, "debunk" was first used in print for the act of taking the "bunk" out of something. There are plenty of synonyms for "debunk," including "disprove," "rebut," "refute," and the somewhat rarer "confute." Even "falsify" can mean "prove something false," in addition to "make something false." "Debunk" itself often suggests that something is not merely untrue, but also a sham; one can simply disprove a myth, but if it is "debunked," the implication is that it was a grossly exaggerated or foolish claim.

Examples of debunk in a Sentence

The article debunks the notion that life exists on Mars. The results of the study debunk his theory.
Recent Examples on the Web The panel also reviewed video footage provided by the Transportation Security Administration to debunk a rumor that a group of people carrying backpacks and dressed in dark clothing left the Indianapolis International Airport that weekend. Johnny Magdaleno, The Indianapolis Star, "Report: BLM protests turned to riots after IMPD fired chemical agents on demonstrators," 26 Feb. 2021 Fox News, which seldom bows to critics, has run fact-checking segments to debunk its own anchors’ false claims about electoral fraud. New York Times, "Lawsuits Take the Lead in Fight Against Disinformation," 6 Feb. 2021 This month, the programs hosted by the three anchors included three-minute segments intended to debunk on-air claims that the 2020 vote had been rigged. Star Tribune, "Murdoch's New York Post blasts president's fraud claims," 28 Dec. 2020 Legal and election experts immediately took to Twitter to debunk the lawsuit. Elizabeth Thompson, Dallas News, "Louie Gohmert sues Pence in far-fetched bid to overturn election results on Jan. 6," 28 Dec. 2020 That conforms to other research finding that efforts to debunk misconceptions often undermine confidence in the truth more than the misinformation. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, "Column: Why I never ‘agree to disagree’ — I just tell you you’re wrong," 22 Dec. 2020 These certifications officially debunk the conspiracies of false election results. Brooklyn White, Essence, "It's Official—All 50 States Have Formally Tallied Votes, Biden Is Clear Winner," 9 Dec. 2020 While election officials took to social media to debunk the Sharpie rumors, others in Arizona were not convinced. Beatrice Dupuy, Star Tribune, "Claim that Sharpie pens ruin Arizona ballots misses the mark," 4 Nov. 2020 Recently, they and vaccine trial participants have used the platform to debunk misinformation around the vaccines, with several of those videos also garnering millions of views. NBC News, "'Patients are dying like flies': California nurse urging Covid safety goes viral on TikTok," 29 Dec. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'debunk.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of debunk

1923, in the meaning defined above

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Last Updated

6 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Debunk.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for debunk



English Language Learners Definition of debunk

: to show that something (such as a belief or theory) is not true : to show the falseness of (a story, idea, statement, etc.)

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