To refuse is to say "no." A person who refuses does not cooperate or participate in an activity largely out of principal or a strongly held belief, but sometimes a person refuses to do something out of fear or caution.

past participle
  • I refuse.
  • I refuse to do that.
  • I absolutely refuse to do that. I won’t do it.
  • She refuses to go along with the idea.
  • She refused to do what everyone else was doing.
  • The children refused to eat their broccoli.
  • The students refused to cooperate with the teacher.
  • Kevin refuses to believe that climate change is affected by human activity.
  • If someone asks you to do something that you don’t want to do, just refuse.


He refuses to wear shoes.

The word "refusal" is a noun:

  • The woman’s refusal to cooperate with the police resulted in a night in jail.
  • The child’s refusal to eat his vegetables was met with a stony silence from his mother.
  • When the young man asked the girl to go out with him, he expected a refusal but instead was surprised by her quick acceptance.

The word "refuse" is a noun. Refuse is garbage. The meaning and pronunciation of "refuse" is different from "refuse," but both words are spelled the same way.

  • Please put your refuse in the garbage bins.
  • The park was strewn with refuse following the concert.
  • "Give me the tired, the poor…the wretched refuse of your teeming shore." (an exerpt from The New Collosus.)

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July 27, 2019