Refuse vs refuse

Photo of author


Refuse and refuse are two words that are spelled identically but are pronounced differently and have different meanings, which makes them heteronyms. We will examine the definitions of the words refuse and refuse, where these words came from, and a few examples of their use in sentences.

Refuse (reFUZE) is a verb that means to object, to decline, to be unwilling to accept or do something, to withhold one’s permission. Related words are refuses, refused, refusing, refusal. The word refuse came into use in the 1300s from the Old French word refuser, which means to reject.

Refuse (REHfuse) is a noun that means trash or garbage. The word refuse is an uncountable or mass noun. The item is a quantity that cannot be counted, so it does not have a plural form and is treated as a singular noun. The word refuse came into use in the 1300s and is derived from Old French word refus, which means trash or something that has been rejected.


If we don’t listen to Gen Z and refuse to help them on a path to success, then we are preventing them from getting entry-level jobs. (The Chatham News + Record)

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill striking down a law that makes it a crime to refuse a police officer’s request for help. (The Sacramento Bee)

For most of history, getting rid of refuse was a simple matter of finding a hole and tossing the trash inside. (The Southwest Times)

The population at large must also be told to cover their water containers, storage tanks and bottles and to get rid of refuse like plastic bags, cans and tyres dumped outside homes. (The Express Tribune)