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An ‘infuridating’ encounter - Odessa American: Ken Brodnax

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An ‘infuridating’ encounter

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Posted: Tuesday, July 20, 2010 12:00 am

So I’m watching an entertaining Texas Rangers game on television when the phone rings and an attorney friend greets me by playing a word game.

“I’m refudiating you,” he says. “Do you know what that means?”

It takes a little while for my brain to shift from neutral, which is what is required to watch baseball (and one of the reasons I really like the game), to drive. He keeps pressing. Do I know what that word means?

I respond that, sure, I know what refudiate means. I stumble for a few seconds and say, “It means that you’re challenging my credibility, that you don’t believe anything I say has merit.”

And I know that’s not a real good explanation, but it’s kinda close. But he laughs with a great deal of gusto and hangs up.

It bugs me a bit, but the Rangers beckon. Still, I keep coming back to the word play. I’m reasonably well read, but I do have that little thing on my college transcript that shows I failed vocabulary. But that was because it was an 8 a.m. Tuesday-Thursday class and running the police beat for the Amarillo Globe-News often kept me busy past midnight. I couldn’t drop the class because I would fall below the hours needed to keep my student deferment for the draft. So I took one for the good of the cause. The Texas Panhandle, with all its drawbacks, beat the heck out of Vietnam.

I’m right, I keep telling myself. Finally, to reassure me, I decide to let the Internet back me up.

Naturally, my computer is in the middle of a security scan, so I have to wait. Back to the baseball game.

Eventually, I get a chance to Google “refudiate” and discover it’s a word that Sarah Palin has used. And she’s getting a good deal of grief for her gaffe.

Then it occurs to me that I’ve been thinking of “repudiate” all along.

So now I get the joke. But it’s really too late to call the lawyer back.

The Rangers win in extra innings, and I vow to get up early enough to run by my friend’s office early the next morning to acknowledge that he got me on that one.

Of course, I endure the wide smiles and laughter and admit that he had me going. Eventually, he admits it might be a non-word that he might use in a courtroom speech. After all, he’s the guy who pronounced the word “hyperbole” (high-PERB-oli) phonetically (high-per-bowl) in a television interview years ago.

I allowed as how refudiate was known as a difugility in vocabulary circles. Had he ever heard that term?

And of course he hadn’t because that’s a made-up word as well. The late F.M. White, who won lots of writing awards as sports editor of the Odessa American back in the day, used to use difugility from time to time and us young pups on his staff always kidded him and wanted to know the definition. We didn’t have an Internet to settle such disputes back then.

But now, I’m pretty sure we’ve refudiated F.M.’s use of words back in the early 1970s.

Odessa, TX

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