re·​fus·​al | \ ri-ˈfyü-zəl How to pronounce refusal (audio) \

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 Nevertheless, Trump’s refusal to concede has had a corrosive effect. Brian Barrett, Wired, "Not Even William Barr Buys Trump’s Election Nonsense," 1 Dec. 2020 Markets rallied after news outlets projected Democrat Joe Biden the winner of the Nov. 3 election, with investors largely looking past President Trump’s unfounded claims of voter fraud and refusal to concede. Washington Post, "Wall Street on pace for record-breaking November," 30 Nov. 2020 Trump’s refusal to concede defeat has put Biden nearly a month behind. Gregory Korte,, "Biden and Harris to Receive Intelligence Briefings Monday," 30 Nov. 2020 Trump’s unprecedented refusal to concede the election in the face of a definitive loss has prompted many Senate Republicans to take more and more contorted public positions to avoid contradicting the president’s victory claims. Laura King, Los Angeles Times, "Trump says it will be ‘hard to get’ his election claims to Supreme Court," 29 Nov. 2020 Scottsdale police did not confirm that number, but the City Court website shows more than 30 counts against him for failure or refusal to obey an emergency management order. Ryan Randazzo, The Arizona Republic, "'I will not close my business': Scottsdale gym owner balks at COVID-19 closure order from health officials," 28 Nov. 2020 Anti-mask groups can be found in abundance on Facebook, where their many members are very vocal about their beliefs and refusal to wear a mask — including to us. Natalie Gontcharova,, "“I Keep It Off My Nose”: Inside The Twisted Logic Of Anti-Maskers," 25 Nov. 2020 The resurgence of the virus and the refusal of many people to wear masks or keep their distance from others have caused despair among health care officials and front-line workers. Arkansas Online, "Defying warnings, millions in the U.S. travel for Thanksgiving," 25 Nov. 2020 Of course, sometimes the need for reform is painfully acute, despite much of the country’s failure or refusal to recognize it. Adam J. White, National Review, "This Thanksgiving, Let’s Practice Constitutional Gratitude," 24 Nov. 2020

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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Time Traveler for refusal

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for refusal

Last Updated

4 Dec 2020

Cite this Entry

“Refusal.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Dec. 2020.

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More Definitions for refusal


How to pronounce refusal (audio)

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 How to pronounce refusal (audio) \

Kids Definition of refusal

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

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