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

Definition of rebuff

transitive verb

: to reject or criticize sharply : snub

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Other Words from rebuff

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.) 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.
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Recent Examples on the Web Washington and Seoul postponed military drills scheduled for mid-November in an attempt to convince North Korea to return to the negotiating table, but Pyongyang rebuffed those efforts and went ahead with its own drills. Joshua Berlinger, CNN, "North Korea fires unidentified projectile, South Korea says," 28 Nov. 2019 But the nuclear talks fell apart in February, when Trump rebuffed Kim’s calls for broad sanctions relief in return for dismantling his main nuclear complex, a partial denuclearization step. Washington Post, "North Korea conducts artillery firing at Kim’s order," 25 Nov. 2019 Frustration with Lamont, who rebuffed a request from nonprofits for $100 million of the state’s $2.5 billion reserve, recently surged after the governor urged the agencies to ask more from wealthy donors. Keith M. Phaneuf,, "Connecticut nonprofits to Gov. Ned Lamont: Philanthropy alone can’t save services," 20 Nov. 2019 Ford tries to buy Ferrari’s company in 1963 but gets rebuffed as Enzo sells to Fiat instead. Kyle Smith, National Review, "The Manly Appeal of Ford v Ferrari," 13 Nov. 2019 The plot recounts the desperate attempt of Ford CEO Henry Ford II to best Ferrari after revered founder Enzo Ferrari rebuffed Ford’s efforts to acquire his company. James Peter Rubin, The Hollywood Reporter, "Petersen Museum Offers Glimpse Into the 'Ford v Ferrari' World," 8 Nov. 2019 The Post said Barr rebuffed the request, which came in September around the time the White House released a rough transcript of Trump's July 25 call at the center of the House impeachment probe. NBC News, "Trump denies report that he wanted Barr to publicly clear him on Ukraine," 7 Nov. 2019 Among other allegations, Michele Speaks, a former manager whose complaint to the NAACP board launched one investigation, alleged that after rebuffing an advance by Mfume, she was passed over for raises and a promotion. Luke Broadwater,, "Mfume announces run for Cummings’ seat in Congress with record of accomplishment but baggage," 4 Nov. 2019 Earlier Wednesday, the administration rebuffed and Iraqi cease-fire gambit and vowed to permanently block Saddam from buying arms. Judy Wiessler, Houston Chronicle, "‘Iraq’s army is defeated’," 25 Oct. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'rebuff.' 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 rebuff

circa 1586, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for rebuff

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

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Time Traveler for rebuff

Time Traveler

The first known use of rebuff was circa 1586

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Statistics for rebuff

Last Updated

2 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Rebuff.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 9 December 2019.

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More Definitions for rebuff


How to pronounce rebuff (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of rebuff

formal : to refuse (something, such as an offer or suggestion) in a rude way


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

Kids Definition of rebuff

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to refuse (something) in a sharp or rude way His suggestion was rebuffed.



Kids Definition of rebuff (Entry 2 of 2)

: a sharp or rude refusal of something (as an offer)

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More from Merriam-Webster on rebuff

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for rebuff

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with rebuff

Spanish Central: Translation of rebuff

Nglish: Translation of rebuff for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of rebuff for Arabic Speakers

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