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I am looking for an antonym for the word claim.

The closest words I could find are reject, deny, and, of course, disclaim. My problem with disclaim is that I have only ever seen it used as disclaimer, which has a rather special, almost legal, meaning in American English. My problem with reject and deny is that it sounds as though I am turning something down. They aren't necessarily opposite in meaning, and they convey an entirely different message.

If claim means...

state or assert that something is the case

... then I am looking for

not state or assert that something is the case, but not necessarily state that it isn't the case

Consider the following sentences:

  1. I claim X.
  2. I do not claim X.
  3. I reject X.

I am looking to replace the "do not claim" in sentence number two.

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    My impression is that you don't need an antonym, the negative form of claim can perfectly fit. – user66974 Jun 4 '14 at 15:23
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    Indeed, just use 2. To claim something is a pretty specific action, why would those need an antonym? It's not likely that the language feels the need to produce a verb to describe something that people are not doing most of the time - I can't think of an antonym for scuba diving either. – oerkelens Jun 4 '14 at 15:35
  • You say you're looking for an antonym to claim, which would be its opposite, and then say you're looking for an equivalent to not claim, which is its absence/negation. – 568ml Jun 4 '14 at 15:54
  • It is not often (in fact I can’t think of any English examples at all off the top of my head) that a language has a specific word for not doing something. That is usually served by a simple negation, or a verb for doing the opposite (i.e., claim <> reject/refute/deny). Similarly, there is no word for not rejecting that something is the case (but also not claiming that it is the case). The only exception I can call to mind is the negative copula or verb of existence in some languages (değil- in Turkish, 没 méi in Mandarin, 無い/ない nai in Japanese, in Irish, e- in Finnish, etc.). – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jun 4 '14 at 16:23
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    "not state or assert that something is the case, but not necessarily state that it isn't the case." Here, it appears that you're simply abstaining – njboot Jun 4 '14 at 16:28
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"waiver" comes to my mind. I presume you mean "claim" in a legal sense.

According to wikipedia "A waiver is the voluntary relinquishment or surrender of some known right or privilege."

Verb: to waive: "to refrain from claiming or insisting on"

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    The question clearly states that he is talking about claim in the sense “state or assert that something is the case”. For that sense, waive is not an antonym. You cannot waive that something is the case. Waive only works as an antonym in the sense “lay claim to”. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jun 4 '14 at 16:16
  • "claim" vs. "dispute"/"contest" – user78270 Jun 4 '14 at 16:37
  • @JanusBahsJacquet The example you gave, "You cannot waive that something is the case.", makes no sense. You can't just stick an antonym in the definition of its counterpart and call it poor. "I waive victory.", "I waive my inheritance.", and "I waive my rights." all make plenty of sense. The sense of rejection and denial is almost negligible when I read it out loud. I also like that waive is an action rather than a lack thereof. I'll let the question stew for a few days to see what others think before I accept anything. – Rainbolt Jun 4 '14 at 16:49
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    @Rusher Your comment makes little sense to me. For an antonym to be an antonym, it should fit the same semantic scope, except with the opposite meaning [as ill-defined a notion as that is]. For the meaning of claim that you gave (which is fundamentally different from the one in ‘claim victory/an inheritance/my rights’), waive does not work as an antonym. It works fine as an antonym for “I claim my rights to this land”, but not for “I claim that 3 + 5 = 13 in the Fourth Dimension”—and the latter is the sense that you specified in the question, not the former. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jun 4 '14 at 16:54
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    @Rusher The semantic scope you provided, through a dictionary definition (one of several possible), was: “not state or assert that something is the case, but not necessarily state that it isn't the case”. I never said an antonym must fit every scope; but this one doesn’t fit the scope that you (the asker) specifically provided. I did not “ignore it in favor of creating [my] own semantic scope”, I used the one you gave verbatim. If that is not the [only] scope you’re looking for, you should edit your question to make that clear. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jun 4 '14 at 17:46
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How about the phrase "I am agnostic about X"? I think that might fit the bill.

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The antonym for claim in contexts where to claim would imply some kind of relationship with, or ownership of, the object is disavow.

1: to deny responsibility for

2: to refuse to acknowledge or accept

A classic example usage of this word with meaning 1 is when a government 'disavows' spies or special forces troops that have been captured in foreign territory they shouldn't have been operating in.

An example of meaning 2 might be a medieval lord disavowing his first or second born son for wanting to join the clergy instead of becoming a squire. (Going to the clergy is supposedly the 3rd son's role).

other possible words for consideration include:

repudiate - refuse to accept, deny the validity of (has use in legal contexts that may be more specific)

and disclaim - refuse to acknowledge, deny

  • disown is similar to disavow. – Scott Jun 4 '14 at 20:59
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    @Scott agreed. I think disown is perhaps narrower in scope than disavow, because you have to own something to disown it, whereas disavowing something, as I understand it, can be done if there is any connection at all. – Sam Jun 4 '14 at 21:36
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How about suppose?

If you suppose something, you do not state or assert that something is the case, but also not state or assert that it is not.

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A claim is an attestation (valid or not) or to give witness. An antonym of 'to attest' is

Estoppel by silence A type of estoppel that prevents someone from asserting something when that person had both the duty and the opportunity to speak up earlier, and his or her silence put another person at a disadvantage.

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