Printable Version
Pronunciation: ir-ri-fræg-ê-bêl Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: Indisputable, undeniable, incontestable.

Notes: In case the words in the definition of today's Good Word begin to bore you, here is a sophisticated (rare) synonym. The positive alternative, refragable, is even rarer, in fact, even the most knowledgeable authors seem to be unaware of it. Irrefragable is accompanied by the usual adverb, irrefragably, and noun, irrefragability.

In Play: Today's word is usually seen in public with the word fact: "It is an irrefragable fact that the Earth is a sphere that circles the Sun, and not the other way around—despite appearances." Logic is another thing that may be irrefragable: "He convinced me with indisputable facts and irrefragable logic that the Chinese had invented spaghetti."

Word History: This term was snitched from Late Latin irrefragabilis "unbreakable, inviolable", from assimilated form of in- "not, opposite of" + Latin refragari "to oppose, contest" + -abilis "capable of". Regragari is composed of re- "back" + frag- "break", the root of frangere "to break" without the Fickle N. Frag- goes back to Proto-Indo-European bhreg- "to break", which popped up in English as break. We also see the Latin root in fraction and suffrage, from Latin suffragium "a voting-tablet, ballot, vote, suffrage" from sub "under" + frag(men) "a broken piece" + -ium, a noun suffix. This goes back to the times when Romans voted with broken pieces of pottery. (It is an irrefragable fact that we owe Sue Gold, a former student of Dr. Goodword, a full portion of gratitude for suggesting today's Good if arcane Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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