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 refugeeism (audio) , ˈre-​fyu̇-​ˌjē-​ \ noun

Synonyms for refugee


deportee, émigré (also emigré), evacuee, exile, expat [chiefly British], expatriate

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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

Brave Girl Rising is based on the real life events of Nasro, a 17-year-old Somali refugee who's grown up in the Dadaab Refugee Camp. Mattie Kahn, Glamour, "Let the Poet Warsan Shire Tell You About the "Bravest Girl in the World"," 8 Mar. 2019 So the government must do something to prevent 70,000 people from turning into climate refugees. Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "To Save Themselves from Sea Level Rise, the Marshall Islands Want to Raise the Land," 26 Feb. 2019 The State Department announced earlier this month that the United States is ending its decades of funding for the U.N. agency that helps Palestinian refugees. Andrew O'reilly, Fox News, "Trump administration closing PLO mission in Washington," 10 Sep. 2018 Many were unarmed, and at least 15 were killed, as tens of thousands of people, including women and children, gathered to demand the right of return for Palestinian refugees and their descendants to land in Israel. Lincoln Anthony Blades, Teen Vogue, "How Policing in the U.S. and Security in Israel Are Connected," 16 July 2018 This country of immigrants, religious refugees, outcasts and dreamers has come a long way. Rita Thompson, Billboard, "Miley Cyrus, Jared Leto & More Artists Celebrate 4th of July 2018: See the Posts," 5 July 2018 Ross oversees the Fort Worth school district's International Newcomer Academy, which serves immigrant and refugee students who are beginning their public education journeys after their families left their homelands. Diane Smith, star-telegram, "'After the headlines have faded,' they will be the first to see immigrant children's trauma," 29 June 2018 Since then, Trump has cut aid for Palestinian refugees and moved the US Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. David M. Halbfinger,, "Kushner criticizes Palestinian leader, questions his ability to make peace," 24 June 2018 Trump's 'deal of the century' is expected to propose detailed solutions to core issues in dispute between the Israelis and Palestinians, such as borders, the future of Israeli settlements, the fate of Palestinian refugees and security. NBC News, "Kushner says will publish Trump's Mideast peace plan 'soon,' Palestinian newspaper says," 24 June 2018

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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Statistics for refugee

Last Updated

13 Mar 2019

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Time Traveler for refugee

The first known use of refugee was in 1685

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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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Comments on refugee

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


a shady place in a garden or forest

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