Learn how to pronounce the words REFUSE & REFUSE with this American English heteronym pronunciation lesson. Heteronyms are words that are spelled exactly the same. They just have a different pronunciation and a different meaning.


Noun: /ˈrɛˌfjus/

Verb: /riˈfjuz/ or /rəˈfjuz/


Definitions: Noun: garbage

Verb: to deny


Hi it’s Jennifer from Tarle speech with your heteronym pronunciation lesson. We have one common word today and one word that’s not as common. But um you do hear this word especially with garbage in the United States. So we have refuse which is the verb meaning to deny. And we have refuse which is a noun meaning garbage.

So common rule again we’ve talked about this many weeks in a row, for words that are spelled the same, one is a noun one is a verb, we typically stress most all of the time syllable number one in the noun, and syllable number two in the verb.
So that’s very common in two-syllable noun and verb heteronym pairs.

To say the word refuse we are going to start with that R – R. Tip of the tongue is down or flipped back. Back of the tongue just needs to be high up. Think about square tense lips and not touching your tongue to your teeth. Okay. Then we are going to move, whoops, sorry. We’re going to move to that short e sound. To do that your mouth is slightly open. You’re going to see the tip of the tongue just between the top and the bottom teeth. It’s not touching anywhere. It’s just flat in the middle of your mouth.

This is different than the long e in re. And to do that smile. Your tongue is going to be nice high and tense and flat for that re. Next we’re going to move to that F sound. It’s the same in both words. Gently touch the teeth. Kind of bite either the bottom lip inside or outside with the teeth. Air moves out of the mouth. Then we’re going to move to that ew by puckering. Tongue is just flat in the middle of the mouth for refuse.

We’re going to end in an S sound. The tip of your tongue is either pointed down or just behind the top teeth, air continuously moves out of your mouth, your voice box is off and it is not moving.
fus fus fus

Now for fuse you’re going to move your mouth in the same way. A z is made in the exact same spot where you make an S. Tip of the tongue is down or just behind the top teeth. The difference is the voice box is on and moving.
fuse fuse fuse

When you have a voiceless and a voiced sound after a vowel, the vowels might sound slightly different. Because the vowel before the S which is unvoiced will sound a tiny bit shorter and the vowel before the Z which is voiced will sound a sound a tiny bit longer.

Okay so let’s put these all together. We have:
refuse refuse refuse
refuse refuse refuse

Let’s think about the stress:
number one for refuse refuse refuse
and two for refuse refuse refuse

refuse refuse

And now for a sentence:
If you do not separate your garbage correctly, the refuse collector may refuse all of your garbage and recycling.

Give it a try I know people are going to notice the difference. If you found this helpful please share this with your friends, give us a like, leave us a sentence, or a comment. And if you are looking for products or help visit us at Tarle speech.

Thanks so much everyone have a great weekend!