Definition of refusenik in US English:



  • 1A person in the former Soviet Union who was refused permission to emigrate, in particular, a Jew forbidden to emigrate to Israel.

    • ‘He and his wife have an interest in helping Russian-Jewish immigrants, especially refuseniks.’
    • ‘The refuseniks have insisted on their loyalty to the state of Israel and commitment to Zionism.’
    • ‘The modern return to Jewish tradition began slowly after the Six Day War, which fanned the latent spark in Jews worldwide, giving rise as well to the refusenik movement in Russia.’
    • ‘I found myself preferring the informed histories of Michael Zand, a member of the Soviet refusenik movement, who provides terrifyingly factual accounts of the fate of Russian Jewry.’
    • ‘Like Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and the refuseniks, Sakharov and Bonner ultimately outlasted their tormentors.’
    • ‘Leeds Coalition Against the War held an inspirational meeting on Monday 18 November to hear 18 year old Israeli refusenik and peace activist Tal Matalon.’
    • ‘As a result, dissident artists and cultural leaders, rebellious students, Jewish refuseniks, Pentecostal ministers and other gulag victims became brave icons of hope within and without the Soviet Union.’
    • ‘Natan Sharansky, former refusenik and Soviet prisoner, current Israeli cabinet minister, is one of the great men of our time.’
    • ‘He had spent too long on the Moscow beat bullying refuseniks and political undesirables.’
    • ‘In 1973, after being denied permission to emigrate to Israel, he became one of the leading Jewish refuseniks lobbying for greater human rights in Brezhnev's Soviet Union.’
    • ‘The law is a Cold War relic that denied the Soviet Bloc favorable tariffs because of Communist curbs on emigration, particularly that of Jewish refuseniks.’
    • ‘He himself had made aliyah from Russia, after years as a refusenik and three and a half years doing hard labor in the Gulag.’
    • ‘The director of Aish HaTorah's Russian Program is Rabbi Eliyahu Essas, a former refusenik from the Soviet Union.’
    • ‘The rally had been organized by Natan Sharansky, the Soviet refusenik who spent fourteen years in the gulag and is now a Knesset member and the head of the largest Russian immigrant party.’
  • 2A person who refuses to follow orders or obey the law, especially as a protest.

    • ‘Thank god for those refuseniks and some modicum of level-headedness in this insanity.’
    • ‘Israel's occupation of Gaza and the West Bank gave rise to the refuseniks - soldiers who refused to participate in what they saw as unlawful military operations.’
    • ‘Yes, some Israeli refuseniks can't stomach either what Israel regrettably has to do or reprehensibly should not be doing.’
    • ‘The poll, conducted by Intellect, a British IT, telecoms and electronics suppliers' trade association, found that the main reason quoted by the broadband refuseniks is ‘lack of business case’.’
    • ‘That's certainly helpful to refuseniks who're already living and working abroad, and might also be useful for those considering skipping off to a handy European country.’
    • ‘He is, of course, one of the great media survivors, or counterpunchers, or refuseniks, of our political age.’
    • ‘Most of the reports will have been written, if not by the refuseniks, but the next tier of management.’
    • ‘As a reservist, as a refusenik, what message would you offer to the Palestinian people?’
    • ‘In that sense, I think the refuseniks have been the biggest inspiration to the Left in Israel because they're taking a clearly noble and moral stand and it's resonating in Israel.’
    • ‘This may induce more Tory refuseniks to vote against the scheme, but even if the party line was to oppose rather than abstain, it would still be approved because of Labour's large majority.’
    • ‘In one sense, Schaller correctly assesses the New Paradigm refuseniks as mourners for the lost order.’
    • ‘The prospect of such a bill has placed Chancellor Gordon Brown at the head of the ID card refuseniks in the Cabinet - including Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott and Foreign Secretary Jack Straw.’
    • ‘In Israel such a soldier is known as a refusenik, which is also the name of a recent book compiled by Kidron about this movement.’
    • ‘Between refuseniks, deserters and ‘Intifada Syndrome’, Israel's military is experiencing similar problems to other armies.’
    • ‘The third play, which is about refuseniks, asks the question: where are the good Jews today?’
    • ‘Insiders at The Daily Telegraph, a ferocious Times competitor, claim that about 15,000 Times refuseniks have defected since last Monday when the broadsheet Times disappeared.’
    • ‘The Register knows and, we hope, most Register readers know plenty of potential refuseniks, but you don't give them the opportunity to refuse.’
    • ‘The position of the refuseniks is one of loyalty to Israel, while arguing that the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza runs contrary to the national interest.’
    • ‘People might be interested in this site set up by Israeli refuseniks, that is reservists in the Israeli Army who have refused to fight in the occupied territories. 21 conscientious objectors are in jail so far for refusing to serve.’
    • ‘You do not have to be a UKIP refusenik to recognise that these tensions are becoming intolerable.’
    dissenter, objector, protester, disputant
    View synonyms


1970s: from refuse + -nik.