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

My denial came shortly thereafter, and unfortunately, my protests were not received with the same understanding. Christopher Elliott, King Features Syndicate, The Mercury News, "Travel Troubleshooter: Norwegian Airlines’ refund goes AWOL," 8 July 2019 For those who ask for their case to be reconsidered, only 13 percent will have their denials reversed. Carina Julig, The Denver Post, "Changes to Colorado’s disability benefits application process irks advocates, attorneys," 3 July 2019 Commissioners signaled their denial of the proposal during a public hearing May 28, citing issues with several components of the project, including Salim’s last-minute decision to rent out units. Priscella Vega,, "Developer appeals Huntington Beach commission's denial of 48-unit residential-commercial project," 3 July 2019 For all its denials, Beijing is highly likely to put its foot on the gas pedal of the Chinese—and global—economy. Nathaniel Taplin, WSJ, "China’s Deleveraging Is Over," 2 July 2019 Despite her denial, Khloé ripped into Woods on Twitter following the interview. Rachel Desantis,, "Khloé Kardashian Turns 35: Looking Back at Her Challenging Year, from Motherhood to Heartbreak," 27 June 2019 The commission cited 10 reasons for their denial, including improper affordability standards, failure to meet the town’s sightline requirements and unsafe traffic conditions. Emily Brindley,, "After years of debate, Simsbury commission approves affordable housing development on Climax Road," 27 June 2019 However, the Houston Chronicle reports the state comptroller's office offers little insight to the reason for its denial of compensation. Houston Chronicle, "State won't compensate wrongly convicted ex-death row inmate," 25 June 2019 Should the Warren Police Department believe an internal policy was violated, our denial of a warrant does not prohibit them from handling the matter internally pursuant to their contractual procedure and guidelines. Christina Hall, Detroit Free Press, "Suspended Warren Police Deputy Commissioner Matthew Nichols terminated," 21 June 2019

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

16 Jul 2019

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 How to pronounce denial (audio) \

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 How to pronounce denial (audio) \

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 How to pronounce denial (audio) \

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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More from Merriam-Webster on denial

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with denial

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for denial

Spanish Central: Translation of denial

Nglish: Translation of denial for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of denial for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about denial

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).


appealing forcibly to the mind or reason

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