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Is there a noun form of the verb "to decline"?

That is, is there a word that follows this pattern:

to accept  -> acceptance
to decline -> ?

I am aware of the word declination which is the closest I've found, but that seems to reflect the meaning of "decline" as related to "incline" and "recline" rather than the synonym of refuse.

If not, are there synonyms of "decline" that follow this pattern?

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I think most US English speakers would use "refusal" as the opposite of "acceptance". –  Hot Licks Aug 26 at 19:29

5 Answers 5

up vote 6 down vote accepted

The OED has six nouns formed from decline with the meaning you are looking for, but all of them are rare or obsolete:

declension 5. The action of declining. rare.

declinal rare. The action of declining.

declination †6. The withholding of acceptance.

declinement = declinature

declining 2. Avoidance (obs.); non-acceptance; refusal.

declinature 2. The action of declining or refusing.

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While it's a gerund rather than a pure noun, I would probably suggest using "declining" to be sure that people would understand. It's less rare than the others. –  trlkly Aug 26 at 16:23

There is declination and declension, but neither is commonly used to mean "refusal". At least declination has a dictionary sense "refusal", so you could use it to mean that. You could also simply use the gerund declining if you have to, but in most cases refusal is probably a better choice.

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Oxford Dictionaries marks declination (in the refusal sense) as American - (e.g. the mandatory vaccine declination form.) Perhaps that is why I had never heard of it. But I can think of various instances where it would be preferable to refusal which seems far too strong for such things as invitations. Sometimes in Britain it might be said that 'so-and-so sent their regrets. We speak of a regrets letter. –  WS2 Aug 26 at 5:50
In cases where "refusal" is deemed too strong I've often seen "non-acceptance" used instead. –  slebetman Aug 26 at 6:47
You may want to add the other (common) meanings of declination, as in irregular verb declination or declination of a star. –  oerkelens Aug 26 at 7:47
There's also the noun decline, but that doesn't mean "refusal", either. –  Peter Shor Aug 26 at 9:59
@oerkelens Do you mean noun declension (rather than verb declination), or is "declination" just an obscure term for "conjugation"? –  Kyle Strand Aug 26 at 10:05

I think you may use;


  • a refusal to agree or comply with a statement;


  • the act or an instance of refusing

Source: www.thefreedictionary.com

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@tchrist - source included!! –  Josh61 Aug 30 at 21:08
Thank you, sir. –  tchrist Aug 30 at 21:10

As others have noted, the noun forms of decline are now disused, so I would recommend a different word altogether.

Refusal and rejection wouldn't be quite right, since declining is more passive.

I suggest nonacceptance (or non-acceptance) for most situations. However, if declining an invitation, regret would be a more diplomatic term.

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Yes, "I regret your invitation," does seem more diplomatic, doesn't it? –  watarok Aug 27 at 3:01
No, that wouldn't be diplomatic at all. "I wish to express my regret" would be more appropriate. –  200_success Aug 27 at 3:07

I'm disinclined to acquiesce to your request. Means "no".

Captain Barbossa, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

Perhaps "disinclination" suits your description? 1. the absence of inclination; reluctance; unwillingness.

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