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[dih-nahy-uh l] /dɪˈnaɪ əl/
an assertion that something said, believed, alleged, etc., is false:
Despite his denials, we knew he had taken the purse. The politician issued a denial of his opponent's charges.
refusal to believe a doctrine, theory, or the like.
disbelief in the existence or reality of a thing.
the refusal to satisfy a claim, request, desire, etc., or the refusal of a person making it.
refusal to recognize or acknowledge; a disowning or disavowal:
the traitor's denial of his country; Peter's denial of Christ.
Law. refusal to acknowledge the validity of a claim, suit, or the like; a plea that denies allegations of fact in an adversary's plea:
Although she sued for libel, he entered a general denial.
sacrifice of one's own wants or needs; self-denial.
Psychology. an unconscious defense mechanism used to reduce anxiety by denying thoughts, feelings, or facts that are consciously intolerable.
Origin of denial
First recorded in 1520-30; deny + -al2
Related forms
nondenial, noun
predenial, adjective
redenial, noun
1. disavowal, disclaimer, repudiation.
1. admission, acknowledgment, confession. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for denial
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He bent closer to his companion, and spoke with a fierce intensity that brooked no denial.

    Within the Law Marvin Dana
  • Burke shook his head emphatically in denial of the allegation.

    Within the Law Marvin Dana
  • Napoleon looked at his uncle the canon with indignation and denial on his face.

  • I can't say whether she considered him an answer to her prayer, or a denial of it.

    It Happened in Egypt C. N. Williamson
  • An excuse, instead of a denial, was the gentlest answer I received.

    Joseph Andrews, Vol. 2 Henry Fielding
British Dictionary definitions for denial


a refusal to agree or comply with a statement; contradiction
the rejection of the truth of a proposition, doctrine, etc: a denial of God's existence
a negative reply; rejection of a request
a refusal to acknowledge; renunciation; disavowal: a denial of one's leader
a psychological process by which painful truths are not admitted into an individual's consciousness See also defence mechanism
abstinence; self-denial
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for denial

1520s; see deny + -al (2). Replaced earlier denyance (mid-15c.). Meaning "unconscious suppression of painful or embarrassing feelings" first attested 1914 in A.A. Brill's translation of Freud's "Psychopathology of Everyday Life"; phrase in denial popularized 1980s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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denial in Medicine

denial de·ni·al (dĭ-nī'əl)
An unconscious defense mechanism characterized by refusal to acknowledge painful realities, thoughts, or feelings.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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