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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.


[ref-yoos] /ˈrɛf yus/
something that is discarded as worthless or useless; rubbish; trash; garbage.
rejected as worthless; discarded:
refuse matter.
1325-75; Middle English < Middle French; Old French refus denial, rejection, derivative of refuser to refuse1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for refuse
  • It is kindness immediately to refuse what you intend to deny.
  • Loyalists would of course refuse, which would then result either in their imprisonment or a lynching.
  • It is unfortunate that some members in society refuse to treat others this way.
  • We consistently refuse to pay for care-giving in this country, and this is the latest iteration of that problem.
  • But it seems implausible that the best possible way of dealing with the situation is to refuse to accept the panels.
  • It's based on something they almost certainly do not, and probably cannot, refuse to do: consume health care services.
  • But they refuse to see how exactly the same logic undercuts their current anti-spending drive.
  • Some browsers are set to refuse all cookies, or to restrict the conditions under which they are set.
  • After all, they refuse to participate in your principal reduction program.
  • But the members of this movement refuse to believe it.
British Dictionary definitions for refuse


(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 refuse

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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