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

The ruling, released Friday, only concerned the trial judge’s refusal to impose a temporary injunction on behalf of Jerome Kunkel, 18, and about two dozen other students at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart School and Assumption Academy in Walton. Anne Saker,, "Vaccines: Kentucky students lose appeal of ban during chickenpox outbreak," 1 July 2019 There is a refusal of responsibility from Washington from both branches. Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review, "Mayor Pete’s Foreign Policy: One Good Idea and Lots of Bad Ones," 13 June 2019 The vague and sexist reasons behind the MTA's refusal to show our ads are not only barring many businesses like ours from growing their companies, but their censorship is a violation of first amendment rights. Erika W. Smith,, "Sex Tech Company Dame Sues NYC Subways Over ‘Sexist’ Advertising Rules," 20 June 2019 When an individual is protesting society's refusal to acknowledge his dignity as a human being, his very act of protest confers dignity on him. Erin Davis And Brandon Griggs, CNN, "7 black LGBTQ leaders in honor of Juneteenth and Pride month," 19 June 2019 Rather than appeasing protesters, her sudden backtracking and refusal to fully withdraw the bill drove the largest demonstration in the city’s history—indeed one of the largest demonstrations seen anywhere in modern times. Laignee Barron / Hong Kong, Time, "Why Hong Kong Protesters Aren't Calling It Quits After the Suspension of a Controversial Extradition Bill," 19 June 2019 Last time China’s money markets got worried about counterparty risk—following brokerage Sealand Securities’ initial refusal to pay out on a repo-like agreement in late 2016—the Fed was in tightening mode. Nathaniel Taplin, WSJ, "Warning Lights Are Flashing In China’s Money Market," 18 June 2019 In the film, Shields depicts Lynch as a kind of modern-day Bartleby, a living and breathing refusal of business as usual. Hua Hsu, The New Yorker, "The Profound Silence of Marshawn Lynch," 14 June 2019 This is imperative, not least because refusal to comply with international law opens the door to other serious violations committed by other states. Elena Katselli, Quartz Africa, "Britain’s refusal to hand back Chagos Islands has echoes of colonial-era arrogance," 11 June 2019

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

8 Jul 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 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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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

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characterized by aphorism

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