fugitive

adjective
fu·​gi·​tive | \ ˈfyü-jə-tiv How to pronounce fugitive (audio) \

Definition of fugitive

 (Entry 1 of 2)

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
3a : 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 transient entry 1 sense 1) interest fugitive essays

fugitive

noun

Definition of fugitive (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a person who flees or tries to escape: such as
a : a person who flees a country or location to escape danger (such as war) or persecution : refugee
b : a person (such as a suspect, witness, or defendant) involved in a criminal case who tries to elude law enforcement especially by fleeing the jurisdiction

called also fugitive from justice

2 : something elusive or hard to find

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Other Words from fugitive

Adjective

fugitively adverb
fugitiveness noun

Synonyms for fugitive

Synonyms: Adjective

elusive, evasive, slippery

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Choose the Right Synonym for fugitive

Adjective

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

Did You Know?

Noun

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.

Examples of fugitive in a Sentence

Adjective

As he daydreamed, fugitive thoughts passed through his mind. that fugitive trait called artistic creativity

Noun

They discovered that the slave was a fugitive.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Power was later arrested in Seabrook, N.H.and charged as a fugitive from justice, prosecutors said. Adam Sennott, BostonGlobe.com, "Malden man convicted of fatally strangling former girlfriend with dog leash," 29 Aug. 2019 He is charged with first-degree auto theft and as a fugitive from justice. Carol Robinson | Crobinson@al.com, al, "Porsche Cayenne stolen from Gardendale found in Mississippi; Mobile man jailed on theft charge," 27 Aug. 2019 William Yewell Cashell, 44, was arrested Saturday in Shawnee, Kansas, after he was identified as a fugitive. Nate Gartrell, The Mercury News, "Walnut Creek man, wanted on child porn charge, arrested in Kansas," 25 July 2019 The verdict marks the climax of a bizarre crime saga involving a grisly mutilation, a law enforcement effort to trick a fugitive out of hiding and a brazen escape from the Santa Ana jail. Julia Wickstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, "Newsletter: Essential California Week in Review: California sues Trump over ‘public charge’ rule," 17 Aug. 2019 Blue Alerts are used to alert the public when a fugitive is suspected of killing or seriously injuring a law enforcement officer. Ashley Remkus | Aremkus@al.com, al, "Tennessee escapee Curtis Watson sought as person of interest in prison official’s killing," 8 Aug. 2019 This week’s wanted suspect: Hon Vanthai Nguyen, 31 Hon Vanthai Nguyen (31) is a local fugitive with a pair of no bail warrants for possessing a weapon. Lyndsay Winkley, San Diego Union-Tribune, "San Diego’s Wanted: Unlawfully possessing a weapon," 25 July 2019 The squirrel is owned by Mickey Paulk of Limestone County, who remains a fugitive after agents seized drugs from his Athena area home. Leada Gore | Lgore@al.com, al.com, "Alabama on Live PD: Attack squirrel, suspected wedding thief both featured on show," 23 June 2019 The nuns have affairs in the haystacks, attend witchy rituals in the woods, curse out the gardener, harbor a fugitive — and that's just the start. Elena Nicolaou, refinery29.com, "Dive Into The Best Summer Movies On Netflix," 20 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Hong Kong, a semiautonomous territory of China, has been wracked by almost three months of antigovernment protests sparked by a proposal to allow the extradition of fugitives to the mainland. Time Staff, Time, "Canadian Consulate Suspends Travel for Hong Kong Staff," 23 Aug. 2019 Six other defendants are believed to be fugitives in the United States and the others are abroad, mostly in Nigeria. BostonGlobe.com, "Cybersecurity firm bought by EMC-Dell affiliate," 23 Aug. 2019 Since the pattern of Saudi fugitives escaping justice in the U.S. first emerged, Wyden has been one of the only lawmakers in Washington to raise concerns or demand action. oregonlive.com, "Saudi students escaping US justice: Oregon’s Ron Wyden slams Trump administration on Senate floor," 25 June 2019 One of the fugitives is pending extradition to Brazil, and another to Argentina. Tatiana Arias And Eliza Mackintosh, CNN, "Italian mafia boss escapes from Uruguayan prison," 24 June 2019 In response to the findings, Merkley proposed legislation to require the federal government to investigate such disappearances and to impose sanctions against any Saudi diplomat or official found to have assisted Saudi fugitives escape prosecution. oregonlive.com, "Sen. Jeff Merkley gets closer to investigating Saudi students escaping U.S. justice, vows to continue effort," 26 July 2019 Initially, Lam’s administration advertised the bill as a way to prevent the city from becoming a haven for criminal fugitives. Time Staff, Time, "'The Bill Is Dead.' Hong Kong's Leader Vows to Kill a Controversial Extradition Plan After Weeks of Protest," 9 July 2019 The fugitives stole another car and about 40 hours after nearly murdering Lancaster the two were pulled over by Turner. al.com, "The tragic reason this Alabama city celebrates July 4th a week late," 4 July 2019 Four executives have pleaded guilty and been sentenced to serve prison terms, while others remain international fugitives, the Justice Department said. Costas Paris, WSJ, "Justice Department Indicts Norway Ship Executives on Antitrust Charges," 27 June 2019

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.

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First Known Use of fugitive

Adjective

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for fugitive

Adjective and Noun

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

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Statistics for fugitive

Last Updated

5 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for fugitive

The first known use of fugitive was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for fugitive

fugitive

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of fugitive

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: running away to avoid being captured
literary : lasting a very short time

fugitive

noun

English Language Learners Definition of fugitive (Entry 2 of 2)

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

fugitive

adjective
fu·​gi·​tive | \ ˈfyü-jə-tiv How to pronounce fugitive (audio) \

Kids Definition of fugitive

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: running away or trying to escape a fugitive prisoner

fugitive

noun

Kids Definition of fugitive (Entry 2 of 2)

: a person who is running away

fugitive

adjective
fu·​gi·​tive | \ ˈfyü-jət-iv How to pronounce fugitive (audio) \

Medical Definition of fugitive

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

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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

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Comments on fugitive

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