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The noun "authentication" has a corresponding verb "to authenticate".

"To disauthenticate" and "to unauthenticate" do not seem to exist (I might be wrong).

So what is the most appropriate word for describing the opposite action of an authentication? Specifically, I'm searching for a name for the act of reversing/canceling an authentication.

Think of it as comparable to the "Login/Logout", "Sign In/Sign Out", etc. but I want one with "Authenticate / ?"

20
  • 2
    If you already googled, please let us know.
    – mplungjan
    Jan 8, 2014 at 10:48
  • 4
    What do you mean by an "opposite" here? To erroneously authenticate? To reverse an authentication? To have no authentication requirements at all?
    – J.R.
    Jan 8, 2014 at 11:21
  • 3
    @Drax: In most contexts, the best single word to mean "reverse an authentication" would be invalidate. If you insist on sticking with the same base word, disauthenticate would always be understood, but it's not a very "nice" word (i.e. - although other people sometimes use it "faut de mieux", mostly they don't). Jan 8, 2014 at 12:19
  • 2
    de-authenticate - google has 8mio compared to 18K of disauthenticate and even asks "did you mean de-authenticate"
    – mplungjan
    Jan 8, 2014 at 15:35
  • 3
    I dabble in computer security some, and I think the confusion comes from using 'authenticate' to mean 'authenticate and authorize'. This meaning was common on systems where authentication directly implied authority. But in reality, authentication (establishing authentic identity) is only the first step in authorization (establishing what data and/or actions are available to a user). In short, authentication isn't something that expires. You either were authenticated or you were not. The authority derived from that authentication is what can expire.
    – Gus
    Jan 8, 2014 at 18:25

8 Answers 8

21

Authentication is seen as "entering the state of being authenticated." An opposite of authentication would essentially mean "entering the state of being unauthenticated". It is more common to refer to the specific process used and the specific context would determine the most appropriate variant. A few examples:

Your session is about to expire.

This certificate is no longer valid — it is has been invalidated.

You have been logged out.

This painting is no longer for sale because the authentication has been retracted; its authenticity is suspect and if it is a forgery it will be exposed.

Your credentials have been compromised. Please authenticate.

If you truly need to refer to a specific opposite than the two most logical words would be:

  • unauthenticate
  • deauthenticate

You can read more about the un- versus de- differences here on EL&U. It is worth noting that "deauthenticate" seems to be more common while "unauthenticated" is already a word and sets a precedence for using "un-".

In the end, if you will be using the word for any official documentation or publicly facing content you should check with your employer and manager for any official style guides. There is no one correct answer, here, and consistency is very important.


One last note is that the term "reauthenticate" has a similar problem but can be avoided by simply using the word "authenticate." Certain dictionaries do include an entry for "reauthenticate", however. I was not able to find a dictionary that included either "unauthenticate" or "deauthenticate."

2
  • This is definitely the complete answer i was waiting for, thanks :)
    – Drax
    Jan 9, 2014 at 9:10
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    Note though that "unauthenticated" is an adjective, and it usually just means "not authenticated" or "not yet authenticated", not "reversed from being authenticated". The adjectival negative prefix un- has a different distribution from the verbal reversative prefix un-: the existence of a word like "undetermined" doesn't imply that a verb "to undetermine" exists.
    – herisson
    Jan 10, 2017 at 17:55
4

Try repudiate (repudiation), meaning "to reject the validity or authority of; to refuse to recognize; to cast off or disown (a son, lover, etc)"

The third definition there hints at the meaning of refusing to acknowledge the continuing existence of something (a relationship, for example) that existed at some other time.

Synonyms include rescind, countermand and invalidate.

You could say something like "Your credentials are hereby repudiated."

Repudiation is a data security term, described here:

Repudiation: A repudiation threat involves carrying out a transaction in such a way that there is no proof after the fact of the principals involved in the transaction. In a Web application, this can mean impersonating an innocent user's credentials. You can help guard against repudiation by using stringent authentication. In addition, use the logging features of Windows to keep an audit trail of any activity on the server.

I would take the repudiation of credentials to mean that any future transactions would be considered unauthenticated and repudiable.

1
  • I like this better. It sounds the least awkward in my ear
    – smac89
    Oct 17, 2019 at 5:51
2

I know of no common usage antonyms. However, I think there is a need for more fine grained language around security, so I've been making up until I find something that does the trick. I use:

Misauthenticate: to accidentally be authenticated as somebody else--like accidentally swiping your spouse's credit card. Or to do so with permission, like using your boss's password in order to carry out her instructions.

Disauthenticate: to purposefully be authenticated as somebody else without their permission--like using stolen passwords to impersonate someone.

Deauthenticate: to change a relationship such that the other party no longer knows who you are--like logging out and then logging back in as a guest.

3
1

It doesn't really have one.

As an adjective I might use "unauthenticated". e.g. "You are unauthenticated". But it doesn't exist as a verb.

cf.: http://thesaurus.com/browse/authenticate

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  • 2
    Unauthenticated would usually mean "not yet authenticated", rather than "no longer authenticated". But the question is not clear as to which is required.
    – Andrew Leach
    Jan 8, 2014 at 10:38
  • Agree; a good clarification. Jan 8, 2014 at 10:43
  • Andrew's observation is dead-on, but I see that as more of a problem with the O.P.'s question than with your answer. The O.P. hasn't even described what kind of "antonym" he is looking for. The antonym for "light" can be "dark" – or it can be "heavy", depending on what you are trying to say.
    – J.R.
    Jan 8, 2014 at 11:19
  • @J.R. the word "antonym" was my (erroneous) correction/interpretation. He needs the OPPOSITE of authentication, i.e. the word for removal of a previously given authentication
    – mplungjan
    Jan 8, 2014 at 12:26
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    I am not sure I can imagine how that works... revoking authorization, yes. But authentication is an identification. In order to make sure you remove authentication from a previously authenticated entity, you would have to make sure that you are dealing with the correct entity - meaning you need to authenticate. If authentication fails on that instance, you cannot remove earlier authentication. If authentication succeeds, however, you have just established that the earlier authentication should be regarded as valid.
    – oerkelens
    Jan 8, 2014 at 13:54
1

Allow me to expand things a bit. We needed a word for this because some drawings in our collection that were attributed to Frederic Remington turned out to be fakes after an inspection by the Buffalo Bill Museum, and we wanted to correct the catalog record. We felt really iffy about "de-authenticated" and so I googled that, and came here. After reading this page and the comments, we came up with this:

"This item was formerly attributed to Frederic Remington until 2014, when its authenticity was invalidated by the Buffalo Bill Museum in Cody, Wyoming."

I actually think I like "disauthenticated" the best, but I'm really weird. Thanks for your time!

0

I guess there is no exact antonym for the word authentication, but the following words can be considered as antonym (since authentication is ~ to approving, allowing, validating etc.)

denying
disproving
rejecting
contradicting
invalidating
opposing
0
0

I frequently work on software projects which require authenticating users. It is not uncommon to hear someone say "deauthenticate" (frequently also written as "de-authenticate") when referring to revoking someone's authentication. It's even more common to hear simply "de-auth", and at least in context the meaning would be quite clear.

Staying in the tech world, the official IEEE 802.11 (for the non-techies, that's your WiFi) specification uses the word as the name for a specific type of datagram frame.

EDIT: I'd agree with the comments about "unauthenticated" referring to someone who has not yet been authenticated, as opposed to having had their authentication revoked. At best, it would be ambiguous.

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The answer Should either be invalidate,uncomfirm or unauthenticate according to the motion on the floor.

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