1 : to fight against
2 : to call in question
Did You Know?
Oppugn was first recorded in English in the 15th century. It came to Middle English from the Latin verb oppugnare, which in turn derived from the combination of ob-, meaning "against," and pugnare, meaning "to fight." Pugnare itself is descended from the same ancient word that gave Latin the word pugnus, meaning "fist." It's no surprise, then, that oppugn was adopted into English to refer to fighting against something or someone, either physically (as in "the dictatorship will oppugn all who oppose it") or verbally (as in "oppugn an argument"). Other descendants of pugnare in English include the equally aggressive pugnacious, impugn, repugnant, and the rare inexpugnable ("incapable of being subdued or overthrown").
"Carmel Valley speller Justin Song navigated the second and third rounds of the Scripps National Spelling Bee yesterday with a precision no one could oppugn." — Paul M. Krawzak, The San Diego Union-Tribune, 30 May 2008
"However, if [bicyclists] consider themselves excellent climbers, here's the real question: How fast can they ascend a hill or mountain? That's the real point to oppugn." — Ken Allen, The Morning Sentinel (Waterville, Maine), 16 Mar. 2013
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