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

Even a high score can result in a credit denial if there are other mitigating factors in your risk profile. Michelle Singletary,, "No, you don’t need a perfect 850 FICO score," 13 July 2018 But lenders did not take the discounted payment amounts into consideration, which could lead to the bank surmising that a borrower had too much debt to be able to make their monthly payments, leading to a mortgage denial. Adam Harris, The Atlantic, "Yet Another Way Student Debt Keeps People from Buying Homes," 11 July 2018 LeSean McCoy issued a strong denial Tuesday after a post on social media accused him of beating a woman, his son and a dog. Nate Davis, USA TODAY, "Bills' LeSean McCoy: Allegation of beating woman, drug use 'completely false'," 10 July 2018 MedStar Union Memorial was given 45 days from the initial survey to appeal the decision before a full denial is made. Christina Tkacik,, "MedStar Union Memorial fails preliminary accreditation due to problems with its inpatient dialysis center," 3 July 2018 From time to time justices have referenced parts of it, sometimes to reiterate how such a denial of basic rights could be justified only by the most dire and exceptional circumstances. Jacob Gershman, WSJ, "Court Upholds Travel Ban, but Slams Infamous Case on Japanese Internment Camps," 26 June 2018 The first reaction probably is denial, but the direness of the current situation between Leonard and the Spurs is irrefutably real. Mike Finger, San Antonio Express-News, "As Kawhi looks elsewhere, a bubble bursts," 16 June 2018 Having lived in denial for this long, Serena finally has to confront the question of what kind of life her daughter can ever have in Gilead. 2) June, Nick and Holly had their first moment as a family. Emma Dibdin, Harper's BAZAAR, "The Handmaid's Tale Season 2 Finale Offers a Light in the Darkness," 11 July 2018 Escaping criminal and political violence is not enough to receive asylum, however, and Hondurans, Salvadorans and Guatemalans have among the highest asylum denial rates in the country. Maria Cristina Garcia, WSJ, "How the American Asylum Bureaucracy Grew," 29 June 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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Phrases Related to denial

in a state of denial

Statistics for denial

Last Updated

24 Sep 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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