• (In politics) A response formulated in anticipation of a criticism; a preemptive rebuttal.

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Example Sentences

“The debaters had talking points and prebuttals planned, so no actual debating took place.”

“Instead of rehearsed prebuttals, it’s refreshing to see a candidate answer questions naturally.” 

“The criticism was unexpected, so there was no way a prebuttal could have been planned for the issue.”

Word Origin

French, 1990s

Why this word?

If it seems like politicians have a rehearsed answer for everything, it’s because they often do. These planned responses to specific questions and talking points are called “prebuttals.” This is a relatively new term that popped up in politics in the 1990s, but it can be traced back to the Old French “rebut” (“a reproach or rebuke”), which turned into the English word “rebuttal,” meaning “a refutation or contradiction.” Tack on the prefix “pre-” and you have the rehearsed rebuttal, a “prebuttal.”

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