So far I have " self-deception " and "reluctant to admit that...", but neither of these have quite the same meaning as "". Also, they don't quite work in a phrase where the thing denied is unmentioned, as in "That penguin is ."

Clarification: By "psycho-jargon" I mean to refer to phrases or words derived from psychological jargon. For example, saying "That seal is really OCD" when was is meant instead of "OCD" is merely "overparticular" or "fussy," or saying "That walrus is really anal" when what's meant by "anal" is also something like "fussy" and not anal-retentiveness, from which the word "anal" derives. (Anal! What a word to throw around casually!) In the case of "denial", as with "anal", the term is borrowed from psychoanalysis and so, for me at least, it has always sounded too much like the kind of cheapened pop-psychology lingo you'd hear on a daytime show like Dr. Phil.

Clarification 2: No disrespect to anyone who watches and enjoys Dr. Phil's show/shows.

  • "delusional", perhaps? No idea if that qualifies as 'psycho-jargon-free'.
    – Hellion
    Commented Nov 29, 2017 at 21:52
  • What does "psycho-jargon-free" mean? Could you please elaborate.
    – nmg49
    Commented Nov 29, 2017 at 22:01
  • 1
    'refusing to accept"
    – Xanne
    Commented Nov 29, 2017 at 22:07
  • What is at all wrong with That penguin is in denial? Other than we don't if penguins can have such a trait. As a sentence ascribing a trait (albeit human) to its subject, it seems fine. You don't have to mention what the penguin is in denial of. Commented Nov 29, 2017 at 23:29
  • 1
    "Standing in the middle of the river at Luxor."
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Nov 29, 2017 at 23:34

1 Answer 1


Refusing to recognise the truth

Would work well enough I would say.

Being in denial carries with it the idea of a present action, much the same way that refusing (present continuous tense) does.

What are you denying, if you are in denial? The truth.


Refusing to recognise the truth

Is I would say synonymous with in denial, while avoiding the psychoanalytic connotation you speak of.

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