Definition of debunk
- debunk a legend
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The article debunks the notion that life exists on Mars.
The results of the study debunk his theory.
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.
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.
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