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

The court has been hobbled by the refusal of the U.S., Russia, China and other major nations to join. Matthew Lee, Fox News, "US relationship with international court crashes under Trump," 10 Sep. 2018 The continuing police murders of Black people, and the refusal of the court system to punish police for these crimes, has continued to fuel an explosion of protests — from the streets to the schools. Valerie Strauss, Washington Post, "TEACHING FOR BLACK LIVES," 10 July 2018 Mark Simone, a radio personality, said the Red Hen's refusal of service shows inconsistency with Democrats' stance on immigration. Ben Tobin, USA TODAY, "Donald Trump, Sarah Sanders, Red Hen set Twitter abuzz," 25 June 2018 According to Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, David Neres has become frustrated at Ajax's refusal of the Borussia Dortmund offer and wants to move on to enhance his career., "Ajax Starlet David Neres Reportedly Eyeing Summer Move Amidst Borussia Dortmund Interest," 9 May 2018 McConnell’s refusal to give Garland even a hearing — let alone an up-or-down vote — was an unconstitutional power grab. Will Bunch,, "Mitch McConnell gets his own chapter in the story of America's dying democracy. And it's devastating | Will Bunch," 19 Apr. 2018 His refusal to allow the network to dictate his work earned him unprecedented creative control throughout his 50 years in the industry. Mary Colurso,, "'American Idol' 2018: 2 Alabama singers in solo round, but only one survives elimination," 1 Apr. 2018 The Times’ findings raise new questions about Donald Trump’s refusal to release his income tax returns, breaking with decades of practice by past presidents. Susanne Craig, The Seattle Times, "Trump engaged in suspect tax schemes as he reaped riches from father," 2 Oct. 2018 But Heimir Hallgrimsson should have been the happier of the two managers as his side's refusal to lie down must have left him encouraged., "Argentina 1-1 Iceland: Messi and Co Stunned by Steely Icelandic Side in World Cup Opener," 16 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

18 Feb 2019

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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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More from Merriam-Webster on refusal

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with refusal

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for refusal

Spanish Central: Translation of refusal

Nglish: Translation of refusal for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of refusal for Arabic Speakers

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).


a servile follower or underling

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