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See also: irréfragable



Learned borrowing from Late Latin irrefrāgābilis (irrefragable) + English -able (suffix forming adjectives with the sense ‘able or fit to be done’). Irrefrāgābilis is derived from Latin ir- (variant of in- (prefix meaning ‘not’)) + refrāgārī[1] + -bilis (suffix forming adjectives indicating a capacity or worth of being acted upon); while refrāgārī is the present active infinitive of refrāgor (to oppose, resist; to gainsay, thwart) (further etymology uncertain, possibly from re- (prefix meaning ‘again’) + fragor (a breaking, shattering; a crash; din, uproar) (from frangō (to break, shatter), ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *bʰreg- (to break))), formed as an antonym of suffrāgōr, the first-person singular present passive indicative of suffrāgō (to support; to vote for).



irrefragable (comparative more irrefragable, superlative most irrefragable)

  1. Which cannot be refuted; clearly right, incontrovertible, indisputable, irrefutable. [from 16th c.]
    Synonyms: incontestable, indubitable, unanswerable, undeniable, unquestionable; see also Thesaurus:irrefutable
    Antonyms: contestable, controvertible, deniable, disputable, dubitable, questionable, refragable, refutable
    • 1538, Erasmus Sarcerius, “Of the Churche or Congregacyon”, in Richard Taverner, transl., Cõmon Places of Scripture Ordrely and after a Cõpendious Forme of Teachyng, [], London: [] Johñ Byddell, [], OCLC 1063243010, folio clxxxv, verso:
      To hold w̃ [with] the papiſtes, [] the churche is an outward & ſup̃me [supreme] monarchie or raigne of the hole worlde, in whiche the pope hath a power irrefragable aſwel vpõ [upon] the laytie as vpon the clergie, agaynſt whom it is leful for no mortal man to reſiſt either in dedes or in wordes.
    • 1593, Gabriel Harvey, Pierces Supererogation: Or A New Prayse of the Old Asse, London: [] Iohn Wolfe, OCLC 165778203; republished as John Payne Collier, editor, Pierces Supererogation: Or A New Prayse of the Old Asse. A Preparative to Certaine Larger Discourses, Intituled Nashes S. Fame (Miscellaneous Tracts. Temp. Eliz. & Jac. I; no. 8), [London: [s.n.], 1870], OCLC 23963073, page 210:
      Beſide, what methodicall artiſt would allow the encomium of the foxe in the prayſe of the aſſe, unleſſe I would proove by irrefragable demonſtration, that the falſe fox was a true aſſe: as I once heard a learned phyſician affirme, if a gooſe were a fox, he was a fox.
    • 1662, [Samuel Butler], “[The First Part of Hudibras]”, in Hudibras. The First and Second Parts. [], London: [] John Martyn and Henry Herringman, [], published 1678, OCLC 890163163; republished in A[lfred] R[ayney] Waller, editor, Hudibras: Written in the Time of the Late Wars, Cambridge: University Press, 1905, OCLC 963614346, canto I, page 7:
      He knew what's what, and that's as high / As Metaphysick Wit can fly, / In School Divinity as able / As he that hight Irrefragable; []
    • 1679, [William Howell], “Henry III”, in Medulla Historiæ Anglicanæ. Being a Comprehensive History of the Lives and Reigns of the Monarchs of England, [], London: [] Abel Swalle, [], OCLC 1172606324, page 178:
      In this Kings reign flouriſhed in England, the Irrefragable Doctor Alexander de Hales, who was School-Maſter to the Angelic Dr. Thomas Aquinas.
      Irrefragable doctor is a translation of Latin doctor irrefrāgābilis, an epithet used to describe Alexander of Hales by Pope Alexander IV (1199 or c. 1185 – 1261) in the papal bull De Fontibus Paradisi (1255).
    • 1685, Ed[ward] Stillingfleet, “Of the Declension of the British Churches”, in Origines Britannicæ, or, The Antiquities of the British Churches. [], London: [] M[iles] Flesher for Henry Mortlock, [], OCLC 1006170680, page 274:
      This is the way to end the vexatious Queſtions about them [the Kingdom of the Picts], being taken out of the moſt authentick Records of Ireland, which are of ſuch irrefragable Authority, That ſome are perſuaded, had they been known to [William] Camden, he would never have diſputed the matter. And ſo I think too. But this irrefragable Authority is that of the Pſalter of Caſhel; []
    • 1775, Charles Burney, “Brussels”, in The Present State of Music in Germany, the Netherlands, and United Provinces. [], volume I, 2nd edition, London: [] T. Becket, []; J. Robson, []; and G. Robinson, [], OCLC 1015526207, pages 53–54:
      [A]ll the preſent compoſers of French comic operas imitate the Italian ſtyle, [] I wiſh this may not, ſometimes, happen in England; but, however that may be, it is certainly an irrefragable proof of the ſuperiority of that melody which is become the common muſical language of all Europe: []
    • 1885, Charlotte M[ary] Yonge, “Wolf”, in Nuttie’s Father, London: Macmillan and Co., OCLC 1334204, page 217:
      Bulfinch, a solicitor at Redcastle, came to him with irrefragable proofs of gross peculation on the part of the bailiff who managed the home farm which supplied the house and stables, and showed him that it was necessary to make a thorough investigation and change of system.
    • 1913 August, Jack London, chapter XIX, in John Barleycorn, New York, N.Y.: The Century Co., OCLC 264225, page 186:
      [W]e were driven by the circumstances of cold and rainy weather to seek refuge in a saloon, where we had to spend part of our pitiful dole for drink. It will be urged by some critics that we might have gone to the Y. M. C. A., to night school, and to the social circles and homes of young people. The only reply is that we did n't[sic]. That is the irrefragable fact. We did n't.
    • 2001 January 14, Harold Evans, Bookend: White House Book Club[1], New York, N.Y.: The New York Times Company, ISSN 0362-4331, OCLC 971436363, archived from the original on 2 February 2021, section 7, page 31:
      Lionel Trilling has cautioned us that an idea derived from reading is not a unitary, irrefragable thing but something modified in its transmission by the cultural community into which it falls, by the response to the language, by the power of understanding of those who receive it and by their purpose and intentions.
    • 2012 February 29, “Nomination of Richard Gary Taranto, Nominee to be U.S. Circuit Judge for the Federal Circuit; []”, in Confirmation Hearings on Federal Appointments: Hearings before the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, One Hundred Twelfth Congress, Second Session [] Part No. 6 [] (S. Hrg. 112-72, Pt. 6), Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, published 2013, OCLC 1097446306, page 699:
      Senator [Chuck] Grassley. [] In that case [LaChance v. White, 174 F. 3d 1378 (1999)] the Federal Circuit held that a whistleblower had to present irrefragable proof that wrongdoing actually occurred in order to prove a claim. Have you ever heard of the irrefragable proof standard, and what's your understanding of the standard? [] Mr. [Richard Gary] Taranto. The Ampro case [Am-Pro Protective Agency, Inc. v. U.S., 281 F. 3d 1234 (2002)] is explicit in saying that the terminology we have used, sometimes irrefragable proof, sometimes something else, really ought to be treated as the same as clear and convincing evidence.
  2. (archaic) Which cannot or should not be broken; indestructible.
    Synonyms: inviolable, irresistible
    • 1624, Democritus Junior [pseudonym; Robert Burton], “How Loue Tyrannizeth ouer Men. Loue or Heroicall Melancholy, His Definition, Part Affected.”, in The Anatomy of Melancholy: [], 2nd edition, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Printed by John Lichfield and James Short, for Henry Cripps, OCLC 54573970, partition 3, section 2, member 1, subsection 2, page 363:
      But this loue of ours is immoderate, inordinate, and not to be comprehended in any bounds. It will not containe it ſelfe within the vnion of marriage, or apply it ſelfe to one obiect, but it is a wandring extravagant, a domineering, a boundleſſe, an irrefragable paſſion: []
    • 1699, A.A.C.A.N.A.Æ.C.M.D.C.L.X.X.J. [pseudonym; Anthony Ashley-Cooper, 3rd Earl of Shaftesbury], “Treatise IV. Viz. an Inquiry Concerning Virtue, or Merit. []”, in Characteristics, &c. [i.e., Characteristicks of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times. []], volume II, [London: John Darby], published 1711, OCLC 560493856, part II, section I, page 111:
      [] Intire Affection (from whence Integrity has its name) as it is anſwerable to it-ſelf, proportionable, and rational; ſo it is irrefragable, ſolid, and durable.
  3. (obsolete) Of a person: obstinate, stubborn.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:obstinate
    Antonyms: see Thesaurus:flexible
    • 1624, Democritus Junior [pseudonym; Robert Burton], “The Last and Best Cure of Loue Melancholy, is, to Let Them Haue Their Desire”, in The Anatomy of Melancholy: [], 2nd edition, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Printed by John Lichfield and James Short, for Henry Cripps, OCLC 54573970, partition 3, section 2, member 5, subsection 5, page 453:
      Many young men are as obſtinate, and as curious in their choice, as tyrannically proud, inſulting, deceitfull, falſe hearing, as irrefragable & peeuiſh, Narciſſus like, []

Alternative forms[edit]

Derived terms[edit]



  1. ^ irrefragable, adj.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, December 2020; “irrefragable, adj.”, in Lexico,; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.