flatly/sharply refused


Senior Member
Czech, CZ

is it possible to say that someone sharply refused an offer (for resolutely actually)?

Thank you
  • elroy

    Moderator: EHL, Arabic, Hebrew, German(-Spanish)
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    I (speaker of American English) have heard and read "flatly" refused quite often. The other two are unfamiliar.

    Kelly B

    USA English
    I am comfortable with both flatly refused and flat out refused; I prefer flatly if the context is at all formal. I don't think that smartly would be used in the US.
    'Flatly refused' is in nationwide use in England - home of the English language! :p (Peace and love to those in the USA).

    However, we sometimes say 'refused flat out' but never 'flat out refused'.

    Google gives 192,000 sites for 'smartly refused', 2,010,000 for 'sharply refused' and 702,000 for 'flatly refused'.

    I believe 'sharply' applied to 'refused' can mean a decision was made at high speed. Or possibly 'harshly'.

    As KellyB has suggested, 'sharply' could also be a tone of voice.



    Senior Member
    English-Ireland (top end)
    OK, so what is wrong with "naturally refused"?
    Nothing at all, although it carries a different kind of meaning to flatly or sharply.
    On the other hand, sharply and flatly carry different kinds of meaning too.
    Isn't is strange that refusal may be natural, flat or sharp.

    I was offered a job as an unpaid, temporary, assistant drain-cleaner.

    I naturally refused it.
    ... Of course I refused it, anyone sane would have done the same.
    I flatly refused it.
    ... I very emphatically, but politely, refused it.
    I sharply refused it.
    ... I refused it rather as if I had been insulted by the offer.

    Have I got sharply refused right here? It's not something I would say normally.


    Senior Member
    Czech, CZ
    I would say sharply if I wanted to indicate that the decision to refuse was nothing to think about. I refused rightaway, without any willingness to discuss the matter (for any reason - either I could have felt offended or I despise such offers or the way of thinking...). In one word SHARPLY.

    Having read your comments, I think I could use it.

    The PM sharply rejected the rumours about preparations of new taxation laws which had risen a huge dismay of public a week ago.

    Thank you for your vivid discussion.