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5. Correct Usage of Confusingly Similar Words & Phrases - D

3minute read Deny/ Decline/ Refuse/ Reject She declined/rejected the job offer. {Incorrect to use: ‘deny/refuse’; here opposite of ‘decline’ is ‘accept’} She declined the invitation. {Incorrect to use: ‘deny/refuse/reject; here opposite of ‘decline’ is ‘accept’} She declined/refused to disclose any further. {Incorrect to use: ‘deny/reject} Notice that when it comes to exercising authority, ‘reject’ is more appropriate than ‘decline’ which is used more in a polite sense. When used for prospective action, ‘decline’ has same meaning as that of ‘refuse’. Here we are not discussing the other meaning of ‘decline’ that is ‘decrease /diminish’ ‘REFUSE’ is opposite of ‘agree’ and used for a prospective action by oneself and therefore followed by infinitive verb as in: ‘Consumers have refused to pay surcharge’. ‘Decline’ can however be used for both prospective action and for ‘refusal to accept’. On the other hand ‘deny’ is used authoritatively to refuse action by somebody else. ‘She was denied entry/permission/grant/request/refund/leave/admission/access’ In case of ‘deny’ the person affected is more relevant that the person or system or authority which ‘denies’. Hence it is mostly used in ‘passive construction’. Notice that ‘deny’ is used for action noun and not prospective action and hence REFUSE cannot substitute DENY. Opposite of this meaning of DENY is ‘allow/grant’. Similarly DENY/REFUSE/DECLINE cannot be substituted by REJECT which is opposite of ACCEPT and it is used for NOUNS but not for Action Nouns and with authority. ‘She rejected my application/ proposal/ hypothesis/ suggestion/ gift/ western culture’ {Here opposite of ‘reject’ is ‘to approve of/to dismiss’ based on morality/ rationality/ sanctity/ substantive grounds/ rules/ norms/ standards} Another meaning of ‘reject’ is ‘spurn’ as in: reject a lover/spouse DENY also means ‘to refuse to accept one’s suspected past action’. REFUSE/REJECT/DECLINE cannot substitute this meaning of DECLINE. The opposite is ADMIT/ CONCEDE/ ACKNOWLEDGE/ CONFESS ‘She denied her involvement / favouring her kith and kin/ her complicity/ any knowledge of fault in advance’ In ‘deny existence of God’ meaning of ‘deny’ is ‘to refute/reject someone else’s belief’. This meaning of DENY is not same as that of DECLINE/ REFUSE. Dependent/Dependable

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