ref·​u·​gee | \ ˌre-fyu̇-ˈjē How to pronounce refugee (audio) , ˈre-fyu̇-ˌjē \

Definition of refugee

: one that flees especially : a person who flees to a foreign country or power to escape danger or persecution

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Other Words from refugee

refugeeism \ ˌre-​fyu̇-​ˈjē-​ˌi-​zəm How to pronounce refugee (audio) , ˈre-​fyu̇-​ˌjē-​ \ noun

Synonyms for refugee


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Examples of refugee in a Sentence

Thousands of refugees have fled the area. refugees began returning to their homeland after years of political unrest and war
Recent Examples on the Web Chong, Pa and their family lived in refugee camps in Thailand for a few years, living off rations and the money Pa made on the side selling embroidery. Sarah Volpenhein, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Hmong refugee settled in Milwaukee, devoting her life to her husband and 10 children. Now, they're facing Mother's Day without her.," 8 May 2021 Watching at home on television, every mumble — or in the case of Colorado’s Lauren Boebert, the unfurling of a silver blanket meant to troll Democrats about the children laying under them in refugee camps along the U.S.-Mexican border — was audible. Philip Elliott, Time, "Biden Reaches the Summit of American Power in a Way Never Imagined," 29 Apr. 2021 Before long, a vicious outbreak of cholera had arisen in the crowded refugee camps outside Bangaon. New York Times, "How Humanity Gave Itself an Extra Life," 27 Apr. 2021 Today millions of refugees languish in refugee camps around the world. Sabeeha Rehman And Walter Ruby, WSJ, "Biden’s Refugee Decision Is a Moral One," 22 Apr. 2021 Predictable outbreaks ravaged the refugee camps, killing thousands of people who had nothing but the clothes on their backs and no means to obtain medical care. Jonathan S. Jones, STAT, "Lessons learned — and forgotten — from the horrific epidemics of the U.S. Civil War," 18 Apr. 2021 The British authorities had banned such mass migration, and on arrival Yehuda and his two brothers and sister were separated from their parents as they were placed in refugee camps., "Yehuda Ben-Yishay, pioneer in treating brain injuries, dies at 88," 10 Apr. 2021 Meanwhile, members of ethnic minority groups – including the Rohingya in refugee camps in Bangladesh – are joining or cheering on the anti-coup protesters. Ann Scott Tyson, The Christian Science Monitor, "As Myanmar protests continue, a glimmer of greater unity," 9 Apr. 2021 An option worthy of consideration is an end to the military occupation and creation of one state with full rights of citizenship for Palestinians living within the territories and in regional refugee camps who choose to return. Star Tribune, "Readers Write: COVID vaccines, Israel policy, postcards," 30 Mar. 2021

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

1685, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for refugee

French réfugié, past participle of (se) réfugier to take refuge, from Middle French refugier, from Latin refugium

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Time Traveler for refugee

Time Traveler

The first known use of refugee was in 1685

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Statistics for refugee

Last Updated

10 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Refugee.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for refugee



English Language Learners Definition of refugee

: someone who has been forced to leave a country because of war or for religious or political reasons


ref·​u·​gee | \ ˌre-fyu̇-ˈjē How to pronounce refugee (audio) \

Kids Definition of refugee

: a person who flees for safety (as from war) usually to a foreign country


ref·​u·​gee | \ ˌre-fyu̇-ˈjē How to pronounce refugee (audio) \

Legal Definition of refugee

: an individual seeking refuge or asylum especially : an individual who has left his or her native country and is unwilling or unable to return to it because of persecution or fear of persecution (as because of race, religion, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion)

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