An unquestionable buzzmaker in 2010, the word refudiate instantly evokes the name of Sarah Palin, who tweeted her way into a flurry of media activity when she used the word in certain statements posted on Twitter. Critics pounced on Palin, lampooning what they saw as nonsensical vocabulary and speculating on whether she meant “refute” or “repudiate.”Congratulations to wordsmith Sarah and to all her detractors and fans. We just can't get enough of Sarah and her unique way of expressing herself.
From a strictly lexical interpretation of the different contexts in which Palin has used “refudiate,” we have concluded that neither “refute” nor “repudiate” seems consistently precise, and that “refudiate” more or less stands on its own, suggesting a general sense of “reject.”
Was there much competition? The rest of the short list, in alphabetical order, was: bankster, crowdsourcing, double-dip (describing a recession), gleek, nom nom, retweet (did "tweet" win in some previous year?), Tea Party, top kill, vuvuzela, webisode.
So the real question is: Why not Tea Party? My political sensors detect liberal bias. There were 2 words associated with the conservative backlash against Obama and the Democratic Congress, and one carried the connotation that the backlash is full of stupid people. If you say, then why wasn't "tea bagger" on the list? The answer is obviously that it's too scurrilous for the dictionary folk. The best argument against the liberal bias theory is that "refudiate" is a coinage that can be used in all sorts of places. It functions as a new word, not simply a name to designate a new thing.