de·​ni·​al | \di-ˈnī(-ə)l, dē-\

Definition of denial 

1 : refusal to satisfy a request or desire the denial of privileges

2a(1) : refusal to admit the truth or reality of something (such as a statement or charge) their denial of the divine right of kings

(2) : assertion that an allegation is false her denial that she was involved

b : refusal to acknowledge a person or a thing : disavowal his denial of his youngest son

3 law : the opposing by the defendant of an allegation (see allegation sense 2) of the opposite party in a lawsuit their denial of the plaintiff's allegations

4 : self-denial … a man in denial about his receding hairline.Playboy

5 logic : negation sense 1b

6 psychology : a defense mechanism in which confrontation with a personal problem or with reality is avoided by denying the existence of the problem or reality

in denial

: refusing to admit the truth or reality of something unpleasant a patient in denial about his health problems

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Examples of denial in a Sentence

She issued a flat denial of the charges made against her. The accusations have met with angry denials from school officials. The city government has been heavily criticized for its denial of the seriousness of the situation. The hardest part of the punishment was the denial of his right to see his children. The group is protesting the denial of voting rights to convicted felons. The lawyers were disappointed by the court's denial of their motion to dismiss the case.
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Recent Examples on the Web

High Times' Cannabis Cup slated for 4/20 of this year faced a last minute permit denial from San Bernardino County just 48 hours before gates opened for the event. Taylor Mims, Billboard, "Chalice Festival Sues Bureau of Cannabis Control as Weed-Centric Events Battle With Legalization," 13 July 2018 The district court decided that the delay and ultimate denial of treatment did not constitute deliberate indifference by Kallas. Bruce Vielmetti, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Transgender inmate can sue over denial of hormone treatment, U.S. Appeals Court rules," 11 July 2018 Neymar has been subject to further discussion following reports of Real Madrid’s denial of a €310m offer for the Brazilian forward., "Neymar Fires Back at Critics Trying to 'Undermine’ Him Following Play Acting Accusations," 3 July 2018 Initially, Díaz didn’t offer any denial to Clemmons’ statements, instead issuing an apology via The New York Times. Anne Branigin, The Root, "Junot Díaz Says He Regrets Statement Apologizing for Sexual Misconduct, Denies Allegations," 3 July 2018 That’s actually very optimistic, particularly given the certainty of dilatory tactics by Senate Democrats who are still justifiably angry about Mitch McConnell’s denial of a confirmation vote to Obama nominee Merrick Garland. Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, "Bracing For a Supreme Court Retirement Bombshell," 27 June 2018 Johnson’s denial also comes despite a Capitol Hill culture that, in the past year, has shown some willingness to criticize industry for its role in the opioid crisis. Lev Facher, STAT, "Senator, blocking subpoena of Teva in opioids probe, says matter should be left to courts," 29 May 2018 Aside from the efficacy, the school district’s denial that Cruz had any connection to the PROMISE program raises serious questions. Dan Sweeney,, "What's the future for Broward's PROMISE program after news Nikolas Cruz was referred there?," 7 May 2018 The mother failed her initial credible fear interview, but requested an immigration judge review the denial, as is allowed by law, said Leslie Thorne, a partner with Haynes and Boone who is handling the case. Lomi Kriel, San Antonio Express-News, "Half of migrants under 5 reunited with parents, though rest remain ‘ineligible’," 12 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'denial.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of denial

1528, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for denial

see deny

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Statistics for denial

Last Updated

5 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for denial

The first known use of denial was in 1528

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More Definitions for denial



English Language Learners Definition of denial

: a statement saying that something is not true or real : a statement in which someone denies something

psychology : a condition in which someone will not admit that something sad, painful, etc., is true or real

: the act of not allowing someone to have something


de·​ni·​al | \di-ˈnī-əl \

Kids Definition of denial

1 : a refusal to give or agree to something asked for a denial of the request

2 : a refusal to admit the truth of a statement a denial of the accusation

3 : a refusal to accept or believe in someone or something He repeated his denial of the existence of ghosts.

4 : a cutting down or limiting a denial of his appetite


de·​ni·​al | \di-ˈnī(-ə)l \

Medical Definition of denial 

: a psychological defense mechanism in which confrontation with a personal problem or with reality is avoided by denying the existence of the problem or reality

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de·​ni·​al | \di-ˈnī-əl \

Legal Definition of denial 

1 : refusal to grant or allow something denial of due process denial of a motion

2a : an assertion that an allegation is false

b : a defense asserting that an opposing party's allegations are false — compare affirmative defense at defense sense 2a, traverse

Note: Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, allegations that are not denied are taken as admitted, and a statement that a party has insufficient knowledge or information to form a belief as to the truth of an allegation is taken as a denial. A denial must sufficiently state which allegations or parts of allegations are being denied.

argumentative denial \ ˌär-​gyə-​ˈmen-​tə-​tiv-​ \

: a denial that asserts facts inconsistent with an allegation made by an adverse party

general denial

1 : a denial of all the allegations in a complaint

2 : a denial of all the allegations of a particular paragraph or group of paragraphs in a complaint

specific denial

1 : general denial in this entry

2 : a denial of parts of an allegation in a complaint

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Comments on denial

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


obstinately defiant of authority

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