From the Arsenal of the Articulate: Rebarbative

Looking for a great word to elegantly dismantle your opponent’s argument? Characterize it as…

Rebarbative (ree-BAR-ba-tiv)

What it Means: Irritating and repellent; aggravating because of abrasive behavior or objectionable appearance.

How to Use It: “Like a pugnacious drunk, he kept up a rambling and rebarbative soliloquy, hoping to goad someone into a fight.”

About the Word: It originally meant standing “beard to beard” in a confrontation, and comes from the same Latin word for “beard” from which we derive “barber.” The exact origins are lost in antiquity, but one possible story I really hope is true (because I like it) is that French fishermen were known to be particularly obnoxious and argumentative and had a habit of wearing beards and thrusting their chins out when they argued with each other. You can almost smell the snails on their breath.

Author: admin

Carl Hausman is Professor of Journalism at Rowan University, the author of several books about media, and a commentator about the role of media and ethics in civic life.

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