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 Patrick has spent the past several days trying to recruit a top campaign staff but has been rebuffed by several potential hires. Matt Viser, Anchorage Daily News, "Deval Patrick, former governor of Massachusetts, joins Democratic presidential contest," 14 Nov. 2019 In June, workers at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., narrowly rejected joining the U.A.W. The union was rebuffed by a significant margin in a 2017 vote at a Nissan plant in Mississippi. Neal E. Boudette, New York Times, "G.M. Workers Approve Contract and End U.A.W. Strike," 25 Oct. 2019 An international tribunal in 2016 invalidated China's vast claims in a case brought by the Philippines, but the ruling was rebuffed by Beijing. NBC News, "'Abominable' to skip Malaysia theaters over disputed sea map," 22 Oct. 2019 An international tribunal in 2016 invalidated China’s vast claims in a case brought by the Philippines, but the ruling was rebuffed by Beijing. San Diego Union-Tribune, "‘Abominable’ to skip Malaysia theaters over disputed sea map," 20 Oct. 2019 Trump has also mused about meeting with President Rouhani of Iran, an approach that was abruptly rebuffed by the Iranians. James Stavridis, Time, "Trump Loves the Military. But He Doesn’t Like Using It," 10 Oct. 2019 Hitomi-san told me that Honda in Japan was rebuffed by its North American operation when the suggestion was made to bring the e over to the US. Jonathan M. Gitlin, Ars Technica, "Dear Honda, this adorable electric car needs to come to the US," 16 Sep. 2019 Entin reported that crew members on the Sunday ferry were told that the same rules were in effect before being rebuffed by CBP. oregonlive, "Bahamas hurricane survivors kicked off ferry over U.S. visa demands," 9 Sep. 2019 Much of that seemed to change when Colts owner Jim Irsay turned to Chris Ballard as his general manager and Ballard, after being rebuffed by New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, hired Frank Reich as the team’s head coach. Mark Maske, The Denver Post, "Today’s NFL is all about pampering QBs, but it didn’t work with Andrew Luck and the Colts," 25 Aug. 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

18 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Rebuff.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 22 November 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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