AskDefine | Define debunk

Dictionary Definition

debunk v : expose while ridiculing; especially of pretentious or false claims and ideas; "The physicist debunked the psychic's claims" [syn: expose]

User Contributed Dictionary



(from bunkum) 1923


  • , /diːbʌŋk/, /di:bVNk/


  1. To discredit, or expose to ridicule the falsehood or the exaggerated claims of something
    Sailing round the world debunked the theory that the earth was flat.


Extensive Definition

A debunker is an individual who discredits and exposes claims as being false, exaggerated, unscientific or pretentious. Topics that many debunkers focus on include U.F.O.s, claimed paranormal phenomena, conspiracy theories, alternative medicine, religion, research outside mainstream science or pseudoscientific subjects. The term debunker is applied when a person functions as an activist and performs research, writes articles, gives speeches, conducts seminars, or engages in other activities with the specific intent of discounting the validity of a dubious, bizarre, or abnormal claim.
As a slang term, debunking is the act of disproving a proposal or theory, generally in an academic or scientific sense.


The term debunk originated in 1923, when American novelist William Woodward (1874-1950) used it to mean to "take the bunk out of things." Often the term "debunkery" is not limited to arguments about scientific validity. It can also be used in a more general sense at attempts to discredit any opposing point of view, such as that of a political opponent. "Debunkify", a variant of debunk, has also recently been introduced into the lexicon. The word is a marketing/advertising term coined by the Ohio Tobacco Prevention Foundation, and is associated with debunking the myths associated with tobacco use.


Debunkers' critiques of such things as religion and pseudoscience may offend believers. Some, such as Marcello Truzzi (who self-identified as a skeptic), maintain that some skeptics go too far and assert negative claims, and thus are not true skeptics but "pseudoskeptics". According to Truzzi, genuine skeptics are neutral or agnostic, often critical of extraordinary claims, but do not make negative claims by denying them. Instead they "demand extraordinary proof" before they will accept extraordinary claims as proven.

Well-known debunkers




External links

debunk in Spanish: Desmitificadores
debunk in French: Debunking
debunk in Korean: 디벙커
debunk in Portuguese: Desenganador

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

awaken, break the spell, burst the bubble, correct, disabuse, disappoint, discover, disenchant, disillude, disillusion, disillusionize, enlighten, expose, let down easy, let in on, prick the bubble, put straight, set right, set straight, show up, tell the truth, unblindfold, uncharm, uncloak, undeceive, undress, unmask, unshroud, unspell, wake up
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