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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.
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. 2015.
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Examples from the web for refused
  • Before they went on the air, both candidates refused the services of a cosmetician.
  • In those early years, brokers and merchants refused to buy war rugs with overt designs for fear they would put off buyers.
  • She carefully scanned the envelope, deciphered a coded message from her lover, then refused to accept the mail.
  • The receiver refused, offering to postpone the sale instead, but the farmers insisted that they go ahead.
  • The railroad-construction company that employed him, which had thought him a model foreman, refused to take him back.
  • His refused to eat pepper because it seemed to make his left leg weak.
  • But many students had refused to leave the residence halls, some because they had nowhere else to go.
  • Again, many of the recruiters refused to paint today's college student with the broad brush of laziness.
  • Some of them refused to submit policies for the ranking or did not respond to repeated requests for their policies.
  • Supporters of the measure, however, refused to concede defeat.
British Dictionary definitions for refused


(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 refused



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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