It doesn't sound right, but I might be mistaken. A quick search shows that people do use it, but they could be wrong as well (I suspect the phrase is ok, and I am wrong).

  • What would be wrong with that? – mplungjan Feb 18 '13 at 22:32
  • Maybe nothing is wrong. If I knew for sure I wouldn't be asking. – XXYXXY Feb 18 '13 at 22:34
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    it's not a common expression (that I'm aware of) but the meaning is clear. What is more commonly used is "reject an idea" - to consider it, then opt not to use it, or "dismiss an idea"- as non-viable, for example. – Kristina Lopez Feb 18 '13 at 22:38

It's a perfectly valid phrase.

However, it can be said by people who really mean they "refute the idea"; that they prove it to be invalid or untrue, or at least offer a strong argument.

However again, it more often happens the other way around; people say they "refute the idea" either as a hypercorrection (they somehow gather that refuting is "posher" than refusing) or because they fancy they have indeed refuted it, when they've offered no real argument against it, never mind a decisive one, and have merely refused it.

Perhaps you are half-remembering "refute the idea" and that is what has you unsure. All refutations are refusals, but refusals are only refutals if they at least offer an argument for the refusal.

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  • It's not that. For some reason I thought the proper verb would be "reject" and using "refuse" would be wrong (a case of hypercorrection, probably, but not the one you've mentioned). – XXYXXY Feb 18 '13 at 22:48
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    Reject would also be correct and valid. Indeed, more common, reject just means you don't accept it, refuse means you won't allow it any credence, and refute that you refuse it because you have made a strong and convincing argument against it. – Jon Hanna Feb 18 '13 at 22:54
  • Have you tried a simple Google search comparison? "Rejected the idea" : "refused the idea" gives hits in the ratio of roughly 45 : 1. I'd avoid the latter. – Edwin Ashworth Feb 18 '13 at 22:56
  • So refuse an idea means refuse to entertain the idea? If you say so, but I've never heard it used so. Deny or reject, yes: but refuse an idea sounds as strange to me as refuse the universe. – Tim Lymington Feb 18 '13 at 22:58

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