ref·​uge | \ ˈre-(ˌ)fyüj How to pronounce refuge (audio) also -(ˌ)fyüzh \

Definition of refuge

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : shelter or protection from danger or distress
2 : a place that provides shelter or protection
3 : something to which one has recourse in difficulty


refuged; refuging

Definition of refuge (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to give refuge to

intransitive verb

: to seek or take refuge

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Synonyms for refuge

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

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Finding Refuge

The re- in refuge means basically "back" or "backward" rather than "again;" thus, a refugee is someone who is "fleeing backward". Refuge tends to appear with certain other words: you generally "seek refuge", "take refuge", or "find refuge". Religion may be a refuge from the woes of your life; a beautiful park may be a refuge from the noise of the city; and your bedroom may be a refuge from the madness of your family.

Examples of refuge in a Sentence

Noun hunting is strictly forbidden in the wildlife refuge Verb a nation with a long, honorable history of refuging political asylum seekers
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Nicol would prioritize taking down the wall in a tract of the refuge in Starr County, where the barrier has created major flooding and erosion risks. April Reese, Scientific American, "Some Ecological Damage from Trump’s Rushed Border Wall Could Be Repaired," 25 Jan. 2021 Kaktovik is on an island in the Beaufort Sea, off Alaska’s north coast and within the boundaries of the refuge. New York Times, "Finding a Foothold for Nordic Skiing in Rural Alaska," 18 Jan. 2021 Citing data gathered between November 2019 and June 2020, USFWS employees warned of the impact of drilling groundwater from wells within a 5-mile radius of the refuge, but the warnings went unheeded. Lucy Sherriff, Popular Science, "How the Trump border wall sapped a desert oasis dry," 6 Jan. 2021 Some have relocated within Mexico, while others went home, abandoning hope of refuge in the U.S. after struggling to find safety and well-paying jobs in Mexico. Michelle Hackman, WSJ, "Migrants Stranded in Mexico Await Biden Administration Overhaul," 22 Dec. 2020 That portion of the refuge shows few signs of the earlier survey. Warren Cornwall, Science | AAAS, "Plan to map oil in Alaska’s Arctic refuge ignores environmental risks, critics say," 21 Dec. 2020 The Bureau of Land Management had initially proposed offering the vast majority of the coastal plain — the northernmost 1.6 million acres of the 19 million-acre refuge — to bidders. Anchorage Daily News, "Trump administration removes close to 475,000 acres from Arctic refuge oil lease sale," 19 Dec. 2020 There is no transcendence at the end of her long, harrowing journey, but there are unexpected gifts, guardian angels and places of refuge. Justin Chang Film Critic, Los Angeles Times, "Review: Frances McDormand is at her finest in ‘Nomadland,’ a sublime ode to American wanderlust," 2 Dec. 2020 Kolaches have become a distinctly Texas comfort food, and sometimes, a source of refuge. Priscilla Totiyapungprasert, The Arizona Republic, "Kolaches — Texas' best gas station food — are coming to this Phoenix drive-thru restaurant," 20 Nov. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Chief Executive Officer Jessica Andrews said a handful of people sought refuge each day Monday and Tuesday, indicating people are being cared for. Tom Sissom, Arkansas Online, "NWA shivers; no heat for thousands," 17 Feb. 2021 But the question, with less than two weeks left in Trump’s tenure, is not so much why Trump decided to open to refuge or why nobody bid last week—though those do demand answers. Nick Martin, The New Republic, "Trump’s Four-Year Drilling Binge Has Done Irreparable Damage," 11 Jan. 2021 Though less affected by lack of snow, glaciers won’t offer skiers refuge either. Denise Hruby, Environment, "In the Alps, ski resorts are desperately battling climate change—and local resistance," 23 Dec. 2020 About 40% of all animals find food, shelter or refuge in soil during part of their life cycle. Elizabeth Pennisi, Science | AAAS, "There’s an ecosystem beneath your feet—and it needs protection, says new report," 4 Dec. 2020 Nevertheless, by proceeding with the lease sales, the Trump administration has made the Arctic refuge a potential issue in the presidential campaign, and the region’s fate may ultimately hinge on the election’s outcome., "Trump administration finalizes plan to open Arctic refuge to drilling," 17 Aug. 2020 The crew spent several months camped on the sea ice before rowing to refuge on the deserted Elephant Island. National Geographic, "THE BEST OF NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX," 26 Mar. 2020 Polls show that over 80% of Turks want the 3.6m refugees their country hosts to go home. The Economist, "The new Turks Syrians are putting down roots in Turkey," 6 Feb. 2020 Nestled on the shorelines of the Red Sea and boasting picturesque coral reefs, the resort provided a front for agents to covertly transport Beta Israel refugees to boats that would carry them to Israel. Suyin Haynes, Time, "The Red Sea Diving Resort," 1 Aug. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'refuge.' 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 refuge


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1594, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

History and Etymology for refuge


Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin refugium, from refugere to escape, from re- + fugere to flee — more at fugitive

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Time Traveler for refuge

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for refuge

Last Updated

25 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Refuge.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for refuge



English Language Learners Definition of refuge

: shelter or protection from danger or trouble
: a place that provides shelter or protection


ref·​uge | \ ˈre-fyüj How to pronounce refuge (audio) \

Kids Definition of refuge

1 : shelter or protection from danger or distress We took refuge in a nearby barn.
2 : a place that provides shelter or protection a wildlife refuge

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Comments on refuge

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