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 Trump has repeatedly criticized the GOP’s Senate leadership for its refusal to act on his demands. Tim Darnell, ajc, "No ‘realistic path’ to pass Trump’s $2,000 stimulus checks, McConnell says," 30 Dec. 2020 Likewise, a 1939 inductee, Cap Anson, is cited for his batting titles and pennants, not for his refusal to play in exhibitions with Black players. New York Times, "The Hall of Fame Tries to Contextualize Baseball’s Racist Past," 21 Dec. 2020 He has been outspoken about Trump’s refusal to accept reality and has criticized colleagues for perpetuating Trump’s denial of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory. Washington Post, "These GOP members of Congress from Virginia, Maryland back Texas suit to overturn election," 11 Dec. 2020 For his refusal, Jacobson was prosecuted and fined. Dhruv Khullar, The New Yorker, "The Deadly Cost of America’s Pandemic Politics," 8 Dec. 2020 Several prominent Democrats in the U.S. have slammed Lopez Obrador for his refusal to name Biden the winner as all the major news networks have done. Andrew Mark Miller, Washington Examiner, "Mexico's president still refusing to recognize Biden as election winner," 27 Nov. 2020 Boynton and his lawyer, Thurgood Marshall – who would soon go on to become the first Black U.S. Supreme Court justice – went to court to challenge the segregation prohibitions and the trespassing conviction Boynton received for his refusal to leave. al, "Alabama civil rights icon Bruce Boynton, who inspired Freedom Rides, dies at 83," 24 Nov. 2020 In what was also her first briefing since the election, McEnany was asked about the administration's refusal to coordinate with the Biden transition team. Caitlin Conant, CBS News, "Trump attacks big Pharma, announces programs to lower drug prices," 20 Nov. 2020 As someone who personally took part in the ritual last time, the former first lady has some thoughts about Trump's refusal to participate, despite the grace they were shown by the Obamas four years ago. Michelle Ruiz, Vogue, "Michelle Obama Has Thoughts on Trump Blocking a Peaceful Transition of Power," 16 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

15 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Refusal.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Jan. 2021.

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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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