[ ri-fyooz ]
See synonyms for: refuserefusedrefusing on

verb (used with object),re·fused, re·fus·ing.
  1. to decline to accept (something offered): to refuse an award.

  2. to decline to give; deny (a request, demand, etc.): to refuse permission.

  1. to express a determination not to (do something): to refuse to discuss the question.

  2. to decline to submit to.

  3. (of a horse) to decline to leap over (a barrier).

  4. to decline to accept (a suitor) in marriage.

  5. 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.

  6. Obsolete. to renounce.

verb (used without object),re·fused, re·fus·ing.
  1. to decline acceptance, consent, or compliance.

Origin of refuse

First recorded in 1300–50; Middle English refusen, from Middle French refuser, Old French ultimately from Latin refūsus, past participle of refundere “to pour back”; see refund1

synonym study For refuse

1. 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.

Other words for refuse

Opposites for refuse

Other words from refuse

  • re·fus·a·ble, adjective
  • re·fus·er, noun
  • qua·si-re·fused, adjective
  • un·re·fus·a·ble, adjective
  • un·re·fused, adjective
  • un·re·fus·ing, adjective

Other definitions for refuse (2 of 2)

[ ref-yoos ]

  1. something that is discarded as worthless or useless; rubbish; trash; garbage.

  1. rejected as worthless; discarded: refuse matter.

Origin of refuse

First recorded in 1350–1400; Middle English from Middle French, Old French refus “dross, waste,” derivative of refuser to refuse1 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use refuse in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for refuse (1 of 2)


/ (rɪˈfjuːz) /

  1. (tr) to decline to accept (something offered): to refuse a present; to refuse promotion

  2. to decline to give or grant (something) to (a person, organization, etc)

  1. (when tr, takes an infinitive) to express determination not (to do something); decline: he refuses to talk about it

  2. (of a horse) to be unwilling to take (a jump), as by swerving or stopping

  3. (tr) (of a woman) to declare one's unwillingness to accept (a suitor) as a husband

Origin of refuse

C14: from Old French refuser, from Latin refundere to pour back; see refund

Derived forms of refuse

  • refusable, adjective
  • refuser, noun

British Dictionary definitions for refuse (2 of 2)


/ (ˈrɛfjuːs) /

    • anything thrown away; waste; rubbish

    • (as modifier): a refuse collection

Origin of refuse

C15: from Old French refuser to refuse 1

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