1

fugitive

adjective fu·gi·tive \ ˈfyü-jə-tiv \
Updated on: 20 Nov 2017

Definition of fugitive

1 : running away or intending flight
  • a fugitive slave
  • a fugitive debtor
2 : moving from place to place : wandering
  • the fugitive clouds of the sky
  • —K. K. Darrow
3 a : being of short duration
  • the journalist … is concerned only with the fugitive moment
  • —A. L. Guerard
b : difficult to grasp or retain : elusive
  • thought is clear or muddy, graspable or fugitive
  • —J. M. Barzun
c : likely to evaporate, deteriorate, change, fade, or disappear
  • dyed with fugitive colors
4 : being of transient (see 1transient 1) interest
  • fugitive essays

fugitively

adverb

fugitiveness

noun

fugitive was our Word of the Day on 09/27/2007. Hear the podcast!

Examples of fugitive in a Sentence

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

  2. that fugitive trait called artistic creativity

Recent Examples of fugitive from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'fugitive.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Origin and Etymology 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

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

2

fugitive

noun

Definition of fugitive

1 : a person who flees or tries to escape; especially : refugee
2 : something elusive or hard to find

Examples of fugitive in a Sentence

  1. They discovered that the slave was a fugitive.

Recent Examples of fugitive from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'fugitive.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Did You Know?

Fugitive was adopted into English as both a noun and an adjective in the 14th century. Both forms came to Middle English by way of Middle French from the Latin adjective fugitivus. Fugitivus, in turn, comes from fugitus, the past participle of the verb fugere, meaning "to flee." Since its adoption, the noun fugitive has been used to identify a motley group of individuals: runaway slaves and soldiers, on-the-run criminals, exiles, refugees, and vagabonds. Eventually, it also developed a less commonly used extended sense for things which are difficult to find or pin down.

Origin and Etymology of fugitive


FUGITIVE Defined for English Language Learners

fugitive

adjective

Definition of fugitive for English Language Learners

  • : running away to avoid being captured

  • : lasting a very short time


fugitive

noun

Definition of fugitive for English Language Learners

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


FUGITIVE Defined for Kids

1

fugitive

adjective fu·gi·tive \ ˈfyü-jə-tiv \

Definition of fugitive for Students

: running away or trying to escape
  • a fugitive prisoner

2

fugitive

noun

Definition of fugitive for Students

: a person who is running away

Medical Dictionary

fugitive

adjective fu·gi·tive \ ˈfyü-jət-iv \

medical Definition of fugitive

: tending to be inconstant or transient
  • fugitive aches and pains
  • —Berton Roueche

Law Dictionary

fugitive

noun fu·gi·tive \ ˈfyü-jə-tiv \

legal Definition of fugitive

: a person who flees; especially : a person who flees one jurisdiction (as a state) for another in order to elude law enforcement personnel


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).

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

WORD OF THE DAY

an inference not connected logically

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Find the Cousins

  • a-large-tree-with-many-branches
  • Which pair shares a common word ancestor?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!