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

Salvini has pledged to deport half a million people and has barred entry to ships carrying refugees. NBC News, "Italy's Salvini calls for elections, raises possibility of far-right rule," 11 Aug. 2019 Other refugees had to crawl to retrieve the body, his father said. Washington Post, "Refugee deported from Turkey was shot and killed in Syria, family says," 10 Aug. 2019 In Australia, which was dispatching refugees to a legal limbo on remote islands, Mr Quilty’s paintings are a call for compassion. The Economist, "Ben Quilty’s paintings depict violence, loss and “death jackets”," 9 Aug. 2019 As of January, the islands had received 16,000 and 26,000 refugees and migrants, respectively. Safiya Charles, The New Republic, "Trump’s Venezuela Policy Is Causing Turmoil in the Caribbean," 9 Aug. 2019 In today’s global economy, climate refugees might find outside help in the form of aid. Matt Simon, WIRED, "New IPCC Report Shows How Our Abuse of Land Drives Climate Change," 8 Aug. 2019 Newsom has continued a practice, begun by former Gov. Jerry Brown, of using his pardon authority to protect refugees at risk of deportation. Nico Savidge, The Mercury News, "Gavin Newsom pardons Santa Clara County man facing deportation," 8 Aug. 2019 Cone and her team carried out field research on Venezuelan refugees and migrants in countries like Columbia, Ecuador, Trinidad, and Tobago, and Curaҫao. Fox News, "Venezuela's female refugees trafficked at higher rate amid political crisis," 8 Aug. 2019 And there certainly were elements of a crisis with the flood of Syrian refugee immigration in 2016. Eric Johnson, Vox, "The wrong US response to Russia and China may trigger a “new Cold War,” warns Stanford University’s Larry Diamond," 7 Aug. 2019

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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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 period when something is suspended

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