Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


verb de·ny \di-ˈnī, dē-\

Simple Definition of deny

  • : to say that something is not true

  • : to refuse to accept or admit (something)

  • : to refuse to give (something) to someone : to prevent someone from having or receiving (something)

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of deny



  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 :  to declare untrue <deny an allegation>

  3. 2 :  to refuse to admit or acknowledge :  disavow <deny responsibility>

  4. 3 a :  to give a negative answer to <denying the petitioners> b :  to refuse to grant <deny a request> c :  to restrain (oneself) from gratification of desires

  5. 4 archaic :  decline

  6. 5 :  to refuse to accept the existence, truth, or validity of


play \-ˈnī-iŋ-lē\ adverb

Examples of deny in a sentence

  1. He denied the report that he would be quitting his job.

  2. She denies all the charges that have been made against her.

  3. The police deny that racism is a problem in the department.

  4. Yes, I was there. I don't deny it.

  5. The judge denied their request.

  6. a government that denies its citizens basic freedoms

Origin and Etymology of deny

Middle English, from Anglo-French deneier, denier, from Latin denegare, from de- + negare to deny — more at negate

First Known Use: 14th century

Synonym Discussion of deny

deny, gainsay, contradict, contravene mean to refuse to accept as true or valid. deny implies a firm refusal to accept as true, to grant or concede, or to acknowledge the existence or claims of <denied the charges>. gainsay implies disputing the truth of what another has said <no one can gainsay her claims>. contradict implies an open or flat denial <her account contradicts his>. contravene implies not so much an intentional opposition as some inherent incompatibility <laws that contravene tradition>.

Rhymes with deny

aby, agley, air-dry, Alai, ally, Altai, anti, apply, assai, awry, aye-aye, Bacchae, Baha'i, banzai, barfly, bee fly, Belgae, belie, bigeye, big lie, black eye, blackfly, black tie, blow-dry, blowby, blowfly, blue-sky, Bo Hai, bone-dry, bonsai, botfly, Brunei, buckeye, bugeye, bye-bye, canaille, catchfly, cat's-eye, Chennai, chess pie, Chiang Mai, cockeye, cockshy, come by, comply, cow pie, crane fly, cross-eye, deadeye, decry, deep-fry, deep-sky, deerfly, defy, Delphi, descry, do by, dong quai, drip-dry, drop by, dry eye, dry fly, elhi, Eli, espy, face fly, firefly, fish-eye, flesh fly, flyby, fly high, forby, freeze-dry, frogeye, fruit fly, gadfly, gallfly, get by, GI, glass eye, go by, good-bye, greenfly, grisaille, gun-shy, Haggai, Hawkeye, heel fly, hereby, hi-fi, hog-tie, horn fly, horsefly, housefly, imply, jai alai, July, Karzai, Kasai, knee-high, lanai, Lanai, lay-by, lay by, Lehigh, let fly, Levi, lie by, magpie, mai tai, mao-tai, Masai, mayfly, medfly, mind's eye, Moirai, mooneye, Mumbai, my eye, nearby, necktie, nilgai, nisi, outbye, outcry, oxeye, pad thai, Panay, panfry, Parcae, piece-dye, pigsty, pinkeye, Po Hai, pop eye, pop fly, potpie, put by, Qinghai, quasi, rabbi, red-eye, rely, reply, rib eye, ride high, rocaille, rough-dry, run dry, Sakai, sand fly, sci-fi, screw eye, semi, Sendai, serai, set by, shanghai, Shanghai, sheep's eye, shoofly, shut-eye, Sinai, sky-high, small-fry, stand by, standby, stir-fry, string tie, supply, swear by, terai, test-fly, thereby, tie-dye, titi, tongue-tie, Transkei, twist tie, two-ply, untie, vat dye, Versailles, walleye, well-nigh, whereby, whitefly, wild rye, wise guy

DENY Defined for Kids


verb de·ny \di-ˈnī\

Definition of deny for Students



  1. 1 :  to declare not to be true <“Well, they were a lazy lot—that much you can't deny.” — Mary Norton, The Borrowers>

  2. 2 :  to refuse to grant <deny a request>

  3. 3 :  to refuse to admit <deny guilt>

Word Root of deny

The Latin word negāre, meaning “to deny” or “to say no,” and its form negātus give us the root neg. Words from the Latin negāre have something to do with saying no. Anything negative, such as a reply to a question, denies something or responds by saying no. To renege is to go back on, or deny, an agreement or promise. Even the last letters of deny, to declare something to be false, come from negāre.

Law Dictionary


transitive verb de·ny

Legal Definition of deny



  1. 1 :  to declare untrue <a party must…admit or deny the allegations — Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 8(b)> — compare avoid

  2. 2 :  to refuse to grant <denied the motion for a new trial>

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up deny? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a block used as a base for a statue

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!


Which of these is a synonym of namby-pamby?

insipid lithe energetic insightful
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.