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 While Holocaust denial is against the law in Germany, relativization skirts the legal boundaries. Toby Axelrod,, "Germany’s anti-Semitism commissioner urges ban on wearing yellow star to protest pandemic lockdowns," 10 May 2021 The denial is related to a January decision by a Michigan administrative law judge to overturn the company's wetland permit after months of hearings. Laura Schulte, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Back Forty mine dealt another blow as Michigan judge stalls decision on key permit," 6 May 2021 The lawsuit, which was filed on Friday in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Dakota Central Division, seeks to get a judge to rule the Department of Interior’s denial of the permit was arbitrary and to overturn it. Mike Brest, Washington Examiner, "Kristi Noem sues Biden administration over Mount Rushmore fireworks," 30 Apr. 2021 Holocaust denial is a really good example of how that isn’t the case. Gilad Edelman, Wired, "On Social Media, American-Style Free Speech Is Dead," 27 Apr. 2021 As climate denial is no longer scientifically tenable, many deniers have become climate nihilists. David Carlin, Forbes, "Fighting Back Against The 3 “D”s Of Climate Inaction," 21 Apr. 2021 The state’s top legal official at the time, Attorney General Kevin Clarkson, said the denial was a mistake, but the litigation continued. James Brooks, Anchorage Daily News, "In issuing PFDs, Alaska will no longer enforce law barring same-sex marriage recognition," 15 Apr. 2021 Prosecutors argued throughout that Cruz had been properly convicted, that his evidence of innocence was faulty and that Simpson’s denial of his bid for freedom had been coherent and persuasive. Joe Sexton, ProPublica, "Ruling on Murder Case by Judge Suffering From Dementia Will Stand, Court Says," 5 Mar. 2021 But if the denial was the result of a bigger issue, like an employer challenging a claim, then going through the appeals process is probably the right path. Fortune, "Denied unemployment benefits? Here are your options," 1 Dec. 2020

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

deny + -al entry 2

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Statistics for denial

Last Updated

13 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Denial.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 May. 2021.

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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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