re·​buff ri-ˈbəf How to pronounce rebuff (audio)
rebuffed; rebuffing; rebuffs

transitive verb

: to reject or criticize sharply : snub
rebuff noun

Did you know?

Occurring frequently in news articles and headlines, rebuff derives (via Middle French rebuffer) from Old Italian ribuffare, meaning "to reprimand," and ultimately from the imitative verb buffare, meaning "to puff." (You might guess that the verb buff, meaning "to polish," is a buffare descendant, but it is actually unrelated. It is derived from Middle French buffle, meaning "wild ox.") A similar word, rebuke, shares the "criticize" sense of rebuff, but not the "reject" sense (one can rebuke another's actions or policies, but one does not rebuke the advances of another, for example). Like rebuke, rebuff can also be used as a noun, as in "His proposal was met with a stern rebuff from the Board of Trustees."

Examples of rebuff in a Sentence

Our suggestion was immediately rebuffed. The company rebuffed the bid. She rebuffed him when he asked her for a date.
Recent Examples on the Web In 2022, Hogan rebuffed an aggressive push from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Republicans to run against Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen. Brian Witte The Associated Press,, 10 Feb. 2024 The statements are part of an effort to rebuff the report by Robert K. Hur, the special counsel who was appointed by Attorney General Merrick B. Garland to investigate how classified material from Mr. Biden’s time as vice president had ended up in his garage in Delaware and an office in Washington. Katie Glueck, New York Times, 9 Feb. 2024 However, Garcia said the management team swiftly rebuffed that claim, contending no one said that. Devoun Cetoute, Miami Herald, 8 Feb. 2024 Hamas also rebuffed Israel’s 60-day pause proposal, saying the next hostage release should involve a permanent cease-fire, the official said. Claire Parker, Washington Post, 25 Jan. 2024 Ed refused to spoon Bob, and his gentle and emancipated soul would surely rebuff mawkish kindness. Daniel Felsenthal, The New Yorker, 19 Jan. 2024 Other states have questioned Iowa’s outsize role for years but were rebuffed with the argument that any candidate willing to put in the time and effort to meet with Iowans could have a chance there, because of the intimate nature of the caucuses. Seema Mehta, Los Angeles Times, 15 Jan. 2024 Tom Smothers rebuffed such contentions in his 1985 interview. George Varga, San Diego Union-Tribune, 27 Dec. 2023 Beyond rebuffing Daniels’ allegations, the filing was largely an attempt to argue that Daniels had little legal ground to bring her claim in California. Jon Blistein, Rolling Stone, 18 Dec. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'rebuff.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle French rebuffer, from Old Italian ribuffare to reprimand, from ribuffo reprimand

First Known Use

circa 1586, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of rebuff was circa 1586


Dictionary Entries Near rebuff

Cite this Entry

“Rebuff.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 verb
: to refuse or check sharply
the suggestion was rebuffed


2 of 2 noun
: a refusal to meet an advance or offer
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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