re·​fus·​al | \ri-ˈfyü-zəl \

Definition of refusal 

1 : the act of refusing or denying

2 : the opportunity or right of refusing or taking before others

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Examples of refusal in a Sentence

My request for more money was met with a flat refusal. his flat refusal of our reasonable request was rather startling

Recent Examples on the Web

Anthem’s refusal to consider the new hospital in network fits with an overall pattern towards reimbursement. Shari Rudavsky, Indianapolis Star, "Hendricks Regional Health disputes Anthem's payment rates at new Brownsburg hospital," 11 July 2018 The refusal by Republicans in 2016 to even consider President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick B. Garland heightened the visibility of political infighting around the court. New York Times, "Political Polarization Takes Hold of the Supreme Court," 5 July 2018 The refusal Thursday to begin funding for a third submarine — an elusive goal to begin with — reverses a late May vote by the House that authorized a 2019 military spending bill. Stephen Singer,, "U.S. House Rejects Bid For 3 Connecticut-Built Submarines A Year," 29 June 2018 Senate Republicans' refusal to consider Garland, followed by Trump's election and Gorsuch's confirmation, kept conservatives in the majority. Richard Wolf, USA TODAY, "Chief Justice John Roberts inherits expanded role as the Supreme Court's man in the middle," 29 June 2018 His refusal to follow proper guidelines interfered with a presidential election campaign in a way that has caused millions of Americans in both parties to justifiably cry foul. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "The Disgrace of Comey’s FBI," 14 June 2018 Congress also condemned ZTE’s refusal to address press reports, including a bombshell Reuters exclusive, alleging that ZTE sold surveillance products to Iran that the regime used to spy on dissidents and human rights advocates. Annie Fixler, Fortune, "How Bailing Out ZTE Damaged America’s Credibility," 12 June 2018 The cut sees the artist mixing and matching comic book references with visions of fame and a fear — or a refusal, rather — of being stuck in a daily grind. Victoria Hernandez,, "With 'Dreams,' rapper Cozz finds himself celebrating the West Coast," 8 June 2018 North Korea’s refusal to allow experts to witness the entrance explosions at Punggye-ri is a good example. Jane Vaynman, Washington Post, "There are signs North Korea is still working on its nuclear program. Here’s why ‘denuclearization’ is so problematic.," 30 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'refusal.' 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 refusal

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for refusal

Last Updated

11 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for refusal

The first known use of refusal was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for refusal



English Language Learners Definition of refusal

: an act of saying or showing that you will not do, give, or accept something : an act of refusing


re·​fus·​al | \ri-ˈfyü-zəl \

Kids Definition of refusal

: the act of showing unwillingness to do, give, or allow something a refusal to answer questions

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Comments on refusal

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


obstinately defiant of authority

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