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adjective fu·gi·tive \ˈfyü-jə-tiv\

Simple Definition of fugitive

  • : running away to avoid being captured

  • : lasting a very short time

Full Definition of fugitive

  1. 1 :  running away or intending flight <a fugitive slave> <a fugitive debtor>

  2. 2 :  moving from place to place :  wandering

  3. 3 a :  being of short duration b :  difficult to grasp or retain :  elusive c :  likely to evaporate, deteriorate, change, fade, or disappear <dyed with fugitive colors>

  4. 4 :  being of transient interest <fugitive essays>

fu·gi·tive·ly adverb
fu·gi·tive·ness noun

Examples of fugitive

  1. As he daydreamed, fugitive thoughts passed through his mind.

  2. <that fugitive trait called artistic creativity>

Origin of fugitive

Middle English, from Middle French & Latin; Middle French fugitif, from Latin fugitivus, from fugitus, past participle of fugere to flee; akin to Greek pheugein to flee

First Known Use: 14th century

Synonym Discussion of fugitive

transient, transitory, ephemeral, momentary, fugitive, fleeting, evanescent mean lasting or staying only a short time. transient applies to what is actually short in its duration or stay <a hotel catering primarily to transient guests>. transitory applies to what is by its nature or essence bound to change, pass, or come to an end <fame in the movies is transitory>. ephemeral implies striking brevity of life or duration <many slang words are ephemeral>. momentary suggests coming and going quickly and therefore being merely a brief interruption of a more enduring state <my feelings of guilt were only momentary>. fugitive and fleeting imply passing so quickly as to make apprehending difficult <let a fugitive smile flit across his face> <fleeting moments of joy>. evanescent suggests a quick vanishing and an airy or fragile quality <the story has an evanescent touch of whimsy that is lost in translation>.



noun fu·gi·tive

Simple Definition of fugitive

  • : a person who is running away to avoid being captured; especially : a person who is trying to escape being arrested by the police

Full Definition of fugitive

  1. 1 :  a person who flees or tries to escape; especially :  refugee

  2. 2 :  something elusive or hard to find

Examples of fugitive

  1. They discovered that the slave was a fugitive.

14th Century

First Known Use of fugitive

14th century

Medical Dictionary


adjective fu·gi·tive \ˈfyü-jət-iv\

Medical Definition of fugitive

  1. :  tending to be inconstant or transient <fugitive aches and pains—Berton Roueche>

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up fugitive? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


February 13, 2016

a trying or distressing experience

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