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 China first warned the U.S. after a Chinese researcher temporarily took refuge in the Chinese consulate in San Francisco, according to the Journal., "Top China Editor Says ‘Common Sense’ for U.S. to Fear Detentions," 19 Oct. 2020 Now, as people seek refuge from the novel coronavirus pandemic, the NFCT has become a lifeline for a different constituency, providing open-air recreation and boosting well-being. Stephanie Vermillion, National Geographic, "See New England’s vibrant fall foliage on an epic canoe trail," 1 Oct. 2020 Joseph Aguilar, an archaeologist from San Ildefonso Pueblo, recently used drones to examine the topography of Tunyo, a mesa where as many as 2,000 Pueblo people took refuge in the 1690s to face off against the Spanish during a monthslong siege. Simon Romero, New York Times, "Why New Mexico’s 1680 Pueblo Revolt Is Echoing in 2020 Protests," 27 Sep. 2020 And self-care in the form of having an amazing space that people can seek refuge in. Jenny Zhang, Harper's BAZAAR, "Jenny Yang Will Not Limit Herself," 21 Sep. 2020 Two years later, in 2016, localist activists led a protest that turned violent, leading to lengthy prison sentences for some of its leaders, while others took refuge in Germany. Timothy Mclaughlin, Wired, "Hong Kong Is a Troubling Case Study in the Death of Democracy," 17 Sep. 2020 When things got hot, Rodriguez took refuge at Lake Edison's Vermilion Valley Resort and waited for help. John Bacon, USA TODAY, "15 firefighters injured in California as wind-driven wildfires roar across West," 10 Sep. 2020 Several other people from Gates who took refuge at the fairgrounds described the town as all but destroyed. oregonlive, "Shellshocked rural Oregonians describe devastation from state’s largest wildfire: 'It will be a miracle if we don’t have loss of life’," 9 Sep. 2020 After hearing that new creatures are hunting humans through sound, a family tries to seek refuge in the woods but struggle on their way there. Tamara Fuentes, Seventeen, "51 Best Halloween Movies On Netflix For That Extra Spooky Movie Night," 9 Sep. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb 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 Eventually, young Jan and his father paid smugglers to guide them to refuge in Bardejov, Slovakia. James R. Hagerty, WSJ, "Holocaust Survivor Rushed to Make Up for Lost Time and Lives," 2 Nov. 2018 Last year, Chechnya was back in the headlines after reports that officials had conducted a brutal purge of gay men, sparking global outrage and prompting a coordinated international effort to grant the men refuge abroad. Washington Post, "Chechnya’s leader uses World Cup to extend his outreach to Middle East," 27 May 2018 Somehow, the sisters — ages 12, 8, 5 and 2 — made their way to refuge in Bangladesh. Hannah Beech, New York Times, "The Rohingya Suffer Real Horrors. So Why Are Some of Their Stories Untrue?," 1 Feb. 2018 On a bare stage with only two chairs and a table , Samahir Farhan portrayed before 300 people the sense of helplessness and hopelessness that refugees feel. Mahmoud Al-najjar And Gilgamesh Nabeel, USA TODAY, "Homeless, helpless refugees use theater to push for a better life in squalid Iraqi camp," 16 Sep. 2017

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

22 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Refuge.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for refuge


How to pronounce refuge (audio)

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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