run·​away | \ ˈrə-nə-ˌwā How to pronounce runaway (audio) \

Definition of runaway

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : one that runs away from danger, duty, or restraint : fugitive
2 : the act of running away out of control also : something (such as a horse) that is running out of control
3 : a one-sided or overwhelming victory



Definition of runaway (Entry 2 of 3)

1a : running away : fugitive
b : leaving to gain special advantages (such as lower wages) or avoid disadvantages (such as governmental or union restrictions) runaway shipping firms a runaway shop
2 : accomplished by elopement or during flight
3 : won by or having a long lead a runaway success also : extremely successful a runaway best seller
4 : subject to uncontrolled changes runaway inflation
5 : being or operating out of control a runaway oil well a runaway nuclear reactor

run away

ran away; run away; running away; runs away

Definition of run away (Entry 3 of 3)

intransitive verb

1a : to leave quickly in order to avoid or escape something
b : to leave home especially : elope
2 : to run out of control : stampede, bolt
3 : to gain a substantial lead : win by a large margin
run away with
1 : to take away in haste or secretly especially : steal
2 : to outshine the others in (something, such as a theatrical performance)
3 : to carry or drive beyond prudent or reasonable limits your imagination ran away with you

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of runaway in a Sentence

Adjective The play was a runaway success. a region plagued by runaway suburban sprawl Verb ran away from an unhappy marriage the child runs away from large dogs
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Many missing children of color are classified as runaways, Wilson said. Harmeet Kaur, CNN, "Black kids go missing at a higher rate than white kids. Here's why we don't hear about them," 3 Nov. 2019 Floor it and the engine races to its 7,500 rpm redline, pushing occupants back like a runaway, well, mustang. Mark Phelan, Detroit Free Press, "760-horsepower 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 strikes like lightning," 29 Oct. 2019 The vast majority of Little’s victims were homeless, runaways, drug users or prostitutes — women so far on the fringes of society that many investigators struggled to figure out their real names. Andrew Boryga,, "He started murdering women in South Florida — then became the worst serial killer in U.S. history," 11 Oct. 2019 There are a lot of runaways, and displaced and abused people in the community. Breanna Edwards, Essence, "Authorities Investigating Death Of Black Trans Woman In Pittsburgh," 3 Oct. 2019 When the ranch shut down in June 2018, there were only seven youths assigned to the site, which had seen an increase in the number of runaways. Jill Tucker,, "SF supervisors blast plan that would lead to more youths in juvenile hall," 18 Sep. 2019 Carmack reported Skylea as a runaway at 9:10 p.m. Aug. 31, but by that time, court records say, the girl was already dead. Vic Ryckaert, Indianapolis Star, "Court docs: Stepmom killed Gas City girl over charm bracelet. Abuse, confinement marked her last hours.," 6 Sep. 2019 The ranch shut down due to the dwindling number of youths in custody and habitual runaways. Joaquin Palomino,, "SF plans to close juvenile hall, but a new proposal would put more youths there," 16 Sep. 2019 Area private school victories included a few runaways. Jack Marrion, Houston Chronicle, "Westside football defeats Madison in opener," 3 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Tumors are hogs, gobbling nutrients to fuel their runaway growth, and for decades researchers have tried to develop drugs that cut off their food supply. Mitch Leslie, Science | AAAS, "Revamped cancer drug starves tumors in mice," 7 Nov. 2019 As visits to fast food restaurants stagnate, rivals are eyeing Chick-fil-A's runaway growth. Max Pepper, CNN, "Crispy, spicy and hugely popular: Why chicken sandwiches are taking over America," 25 Oct. 2019 The losing streak ends this week, but don’t expect a runaway. Josh Bean |, al, "Birmingham HS picks: Who wins final region games of 2019?," 22 Oct. 2019 After Faoa didn’t call her the first night at Inn Home, Palmer contacted his DHS caseworker and learned he had been reported as a runaway by the Inn Home for Boys’ staff. oregonlive, "Missing teen disappeared 12 days ago in Happy Valley; foster mom frustrated with lack of search," 22 Oct. 2019 Santa Anita review Friday’s feature was pretty much a runaway as Raymundos Secret went to the lead and held it for the entire one-mile allowance turf race for 3-year-old fillies. John Cherwa, Los Angeles Times, "Racing! Omaha Beach runs at Santa Anita," 5 Oct. 2019 While India’s aviation sector has indeed logged runaway growth in recent years, performance in 2019 is likely to be muted. Pramod Mathew, Quartz India, "Modi’s claim of a vibrant Indian economy is wrong on many counts," 25 Sep. 2019 For example, loss of methylation on certain parts of the genome results in the runaway growth of many types of cancer cells. National Geographic, "DNA reveals first look at enigmatic human relative," 19 Sep. 2019 The teen, who has not been hurt, was released to her parents, and detectives are looking into possible charges for anyone responsible for harboring a runaway. Michelle Iracheta, Houston Chronicle, "Missing Magnolia teen 'orchestrated her disappearance,' found safe in nearby town," 19 Sep. 2019

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

See More

First Known Use of runaway


1534, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1548, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about runaway

Statistics for runaway

Last Updated

12 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for runaway

The first known use of runaway was before the 12th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for runaway


How to pronounce run away (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of runaway

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: someone (such as a child) who leaves home without permission : someone who runs away from home



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

used to describe a person who has left home without permission or who has escaped from some place
: operating, running, increasing, etc., in a fast and dangerous way that cannot be controlled
: extremely successful


run·​away | \ ˈrə-nə-ˌwā How to pronounce runaway (audio) \

Kids Definition of runaway

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : someone who leaves a place (as home) secretly without intending to return
2 : a horse that is running out of control



Kids Definition of runaway (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : having left a place secretly with no intention of returning
2 : escaping from control a runaway horse

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on runaway

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for runaway

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with runaway

Spanish Central: Translation of runaway

Nglish: Translation of runaway for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of runaway for Arabic Speakers

Comments on runaway

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


a calculated move

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Confusing Words—A Quiz

  • alice with tweedle dee and tweedle dum
  • I invented a brand new toaster robot and ______ it "Sir Toasts-a-Lot."
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Dictionary Devil

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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