ref·​u·​gee ˌre-fyu̇-ˈjē How to pronounce refugee (audio)
: one that flees
especially : a person who flees to a foreign country or power to escape danger or persecution
ˌre-fyu̇-ˈjē-ˌi-zəm How to pronounce refugee (audio)

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 Also known as the Sacramento FUEL Network, the coalition of community groups including pro bono attorneys work together to help Sacramento’s immigrant and refugee population. Rosalio Ahumada, Sacramento Bee, 9 Apr. 2024 The refugees are brutally chased across the border out of the EU into the darkness of the woods. Leo Barraclough, Variety, 8 Apr. 2024 Literacy, soft skills and the GED The English learning class is geared toward immigrants and refugees who may be proficient in their native language but struggle to communicate in English. Brenna Gauchat, The Arizona Republic, 7 Apr. 2024 One of them was former Palestinian refugee Imad Enchassi, now chair of Islamic Studies at Oklahoma City University, who in the turmoil would be among those in the city’s budding Muslim community to become targets of Islamophobia before the arrest of extremist and white supremacist Timothy McVeigh. Marc Ramirez, USA TODAY, 4 Apr. 2024 The agency asked that the Dominican Republic use recognized international standards to decide the status of Haitian refugees. Jacqueline Charles, Miami Herald, 3 Apr. 2024 Israeli officials have also blamed the U.N.’s Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA) for a failure to distribute aid. Charlene Gubash, NBC News, 30 Mar. 2024 Jordan is home to more than 2 million Palestinian refugees, most of whom have Jordanian citizenship. Sarah Dadouch, Washington Post, 28 Mar. 2024 News footage soon after showed at least 47 bodies, including children, pulled from the rubble in the refugee camp. Phil Klay, The Atlantic, 28 Mar. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'refugee.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

1685, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of refugee was in 1685

Dictionary Entries Near refugee

Cite this Entry

“Refugee.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


ref·​u·​gee ˌref-yu̇-ˈjē How to pronounce refugee (audio)
: a person who flees for safety especially to a foreign country

from French réfugié, past participle of réfugier "to put in a place of safety," from Latin refugium "a refuge," from refugere "to run away from, escape," from re- "again, against" and fugere "to run away, flee" — related to centrifugal, fugitive

Legal Definition


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

More from Merriam-Webster on refugee

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