de·​ni·​al di-ˈnī(-ə)l How to pronounce denial (audio)
: refusal to satisfy a request or desire
the denial of privileges
: refusal to admit the truth or reality of something (such as a statement or charge)
their denial of the divine right of kings
: assertion that an allegation is false
her denial that she was involved
: refusal to acknowledge a person or a thing : disavowal
his denial of his youngest son
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
: self-denial
… a man in denial about his receding hairline.Playboy
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

Example Sentences

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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web Vasilevskiy was otherwise immense, stopping a Zacha break-in, a Krejci chance off a turnover, a blocker denial of a Patrice Bergeron one-timer, and Matt Grzelcyk’s walk-in chances from the left and right wings. Globe Staff,, 27 Jan. 2023 Although it wasn’t planned, Mitchell-Delmotte realized her songs reflected the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Diane Bellcolumnist, San Diego Union-Tribune, 25 Jan. 2023 The good and interesting thing about The Son is that the internal fractures, the sense of double lives, denial, and memory, feel acute in the look and style of the movie. K. Austin Collins, Rolling Stone, 19 Jan. 2023 After sharing her diagnosis, she was also met with doubt, denial, and gaslighting—something Black women tend to face in the healthcare system, at the workplace, and out in the world at large. Elizabeth Ayoola, Essence, 18 Jan. 2023 As heartbreaking as her words are, the sentiment behind them is the direct result of a two-year campaign of denial, gaslighting, mudslinging and harassment against Megan that’s reached its crescendo with this trial. Tayo Bero,, 21 Dec. 2022 And so, despite denial, grief, bargaining, anguish and even nausea, the Great Deaccession commenced. Karen Heller, Anchorage Daily News, 18 Dec. 2022 In an ideal world, you're supposed to experience one loss, then feel each stage of grief in order: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. Nicola Dall'asen, Allure, 15 Dec. 2022 The goals of bad actors can vary: disruption, extortion, ransom, retaliation, denial of service, or simply warning of their attack capabilities. Richard Torrenzano, Fortune, 14 Dec. 2022 See More

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.

Word History


deny + -al entry 2

First Known Use

1528, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of denial was in 1528

Dictionary Entries Near denial

Cite this Entry

“Denial.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition


de·​ni·​al di-ˈnī(-ə)l How to pronounce denial (audio)
: a refusal to grant something asked for
: a refusal to admit the truth of a statement : contradiction
a flat denial of the charges
: a refusal to accept or believe in something
make a public denial of political beliefs once held
: a cutting down or limiting of a person's own desires or activity
denial of one's appetite

Medical Definition


de·​ni·​al di-ˈnī(-ə)l How to pronounce denial (audio)
: 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

Legal Definition


de·​ni·​al di-ˈnī-əl How to pronounce denial (audio)
: refusal to grant or allow something
denial of due process
denial of a motion
: an assertion that an allegation is false
: 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
: a denial of all the allegations in a complaint
: a denial of all the allegations of a particular paragraph or group of paragraphs in a complaint
specific denial
: general denial in this entry
: a denial of parts of an allegation in a complaint

More from Merriam-Webster on denial

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