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[ri-fyooz] /rɪˈfyuz/
verb (used with object), refused, refusing.
to decline to accept (something offered):
to refuse an award.
to decline to give; deny (a request, demand, etc.):
to refuse permission.
to express a determination not to (do something):
to refuse to discuss the question.
to decline to submit to.
(of a horse) to decline to leap over (a barrier).
to decline to accept (a suitor) in marriage.
Military. to bend or curve back (the flank units of a military force) so that they face generally to the flank rather than the front.
Obsolete. to renounce.
verb (used without object), refused, refusing.
to decline acceptance, consent, or compliance.
Origin of refuse1
1300-50; Middle English refusen < Middle French refuser, Old FrenchLatin refūsus, past participle of refundere to pour back; see refund1
Related forms
refusable, adjective
refuser, noun
quasi-refused, adjective
unrefusable, adjective
unrefused, adjective
unrefusing, adjective
1. rebuff. Refuse, decline, reject, spurn all imply nonacceptance of something. To decline is milder and more courteous than to refuse, which is direct and often emphatic in expressing determination not to accept what is offered or proposed: to refuse a bribe; to decline an invitation. To reject is even more positive and definite than refuse : to reject a suitor. To spurn is to reject with scorn: to spurn a bribe.
1. accept, welcome. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for refusing
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • "Nonsense, Presley," answered the other, refusing to become angry.

    The Octopus Frank Norris
  • You are very good to have forgiven us for refusing you; but you see—a prince!

    The Lady of Lyons Edward Bulwer Lytton
  • So far as he himself was concerned, he would not have hesitated a moment in refusing the terms offered by Henkel.

    On Land And Sea At The Dardanelles Thomas Charles Bridges
  • He ordered the soldier to do a menial service, and killed him for refusing.

    Between the Lines Henry Bascom Smith
  • He sank into a mild melancholy, refusing for more than eighteen months to put pen to paper.

    The Ways of Men Eliot Gregory
British Dictionary definitions for refusing


(transitive) to decline to accept (something offered): to refuse a present, to refuse promotion
to decline to give or grant (something) to (a person, organization, etc)
(when transitive, takes an infinitive) to express determination not (to do something); decline: he refuses to talk about it
(of a horse) to be unwilling to take (a jump), as by swerving or stopping
(transitive) (of a woman) to declare one's unwillingness to accept (a suitor) as a husband
Derived Forms
refusable, adjective
refuser, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Old French refuser, from Latin refundere to pour back; see refund


  1. anything thrown away; waste; rubbish
  2. (as modifier): a refuse collection
Word Origin
C15: from Old French refuser to refuse1
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 refusing



c.1300, from Old French refuser "reject, disregard, avoid" (12c.), from Vulgar Latin *refusare, frequentative form from past participle stem of Latin refundere "pour back, give back" (see refund (v.)). Related: Refused; refusing.


mid-14c., "an outcast;" mid-14c., "a rejected thing, waste material, trash," from Old French refus "waste product, rubbish; refusal, denial, rejection," a back-formation from the past participle of refuser (see refuse (v.)). As an adjective from late 14c., "despised, rejected;" early 15c., "of low quality."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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