What verb should I use for somebody who thinks that what given as proof doesn’t prove what it should?

I am looking for the equivalent of the Italian contestare; in particular, I am looking for a verb to use for a proof, which for me is not a proof at all, and that I would use in a sentence similar to the following one:

She told me something I could not […].

Google Translate gave me the following possible translations:

  • Challenge (sfidare, contestare, provocare)
  • Dispute (contestare, disputare, discutere)
  • Contest (contestare, impugnare, contendere, disputare)
  • Deny (negare, rifiutare, rinnegare, smentire, contestare, licenziare)

Contest seems to the right word when it is used to mean “to formally oppose a decision or statement because you think it is wrong.” Contestare is generally a word used in formal context, even if it could be used outside the court.
Dispute seems the right word when it is used to mean “to question whether something is true and valid.”
Challenge could be the right word (“to question whether something is true and valid”), but looking at the example given from the OALD, I doubt it applies to my case.

The story was completely untrue and was successfully challenged in court.

Deny (when it means “to say that something is not true”) doesn’t seem to be the right word, as it is more a matter of questioning that what said is true, rather than saying it is not true.

Which verb should I use?


Practically, you may spare yourself the trouble of distinguishing these four words. All four are commonly used as synonyms of each other, and very few readers or writers trouble to deploy them with any precision.

But if you are so eccentric as to want to use English with a nicety which will be imperceptible to most of your audience, here are some guidelines:

  • Challenge is most properly used of initiating a dispute by calling a proposition or conclusion into question. It is an announcement to the proponent that you intend to argue an opposing proposition.

    Although I felt her argument was unsound, I was unwilling to antagonize her, so I did not challenge her finding.

  • Contest denotes active opposition. It may be used of argument without impropriety, but is more often used of opposition to an action or decision.

    Tonio however was bolder than I: he not only challenged the finding, he announced his intention of contesting it in a higher court.

  • Deny means to contradict a proposition, to assert that it is not true.

    Tonio started by denying many of the key facts she cited, which he demonstrated were contrary to the testimony of the most credible witnesses.

  • Dispute, again, denotes active opposition, but is typically used of prosecuting a logical argument.

    He disputed her rationale vigorously, calling many expert witnesses and discriminating very subtly between the legal precedents.

So which verb you should use will depend on precisely what you mean: what action you are describing and what action you are opposing.

(And for the record: the meanings I offer for these four words are their meanings in this particular context; all four have other meanings in other contexts.)

Source : Link , Question Author : apaderno , Answer Author : StoneyB on hiatus

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