ref·u·gee | \ˌre-fyu̇-ˈjē, 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, ˈre-fyu̇-ˌjē- \ noun

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

Some of the players on the Croatian national team were child refugees from the last Balkan war. John Kass,, "Joy of Chicago's Croatians cresting as World Cup final with France approaches," 13 July 2018 For Europe as a whole, and particularly Germany, the big policy problem right now is the refugees and immigration, which is creating a huge deal of tension within the Merkel administration—that’s their priority. Heather Souvaine Horn, The New Republic, "Is It Fair for Trump to Bash NATO Over Military Spending?," 12 July 2018 Kadir is a refugee from Ethiopia, who first fled to Turkey before landing in Boise. Maria L. La Ganga, idahostatesman, "‘She came to us like a dream’: Hundreds attend memorial for young stabbing victim," 7 July 2018 The film's central character, Wilson (acting newcomer Dr. Cake-Baly Marcelo), is a middle-aged political refugee from Guinea-Bissau living in Budapest who lost his wife and daughters during the internal strife in his homeland. Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter, "'The Citizen': Film Review," 5 July 2018 All the injured were refugees from Ethiopia, Syria, and Iraq., "Refugee who fled violence mourns daughter slain in Idaho," 4 July 2018 According to the most recent tally published by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, there were also 22.5 million refugees in 2016—the highest level on record. Erika P. Rodriguez, Smithsonian, "Photo of the day," 27 June 2018 Families Belong Together has a list of groups here, including RAICES, which provides free and low-cost legal services to underserved immigrant children, families, and refugees in Texas. Vogue, "The Families Belong Together March Is on June 30: Everything You Need to Know," 27 June 2018 Fallon said, referring to a nonprofit organization that provides free and low-cost legal services to immigrant children, families and refugees in Texas. NBC News, "Trump tweets to Fallon to 'be a man.' Fallon responds with immigration-related donation.," 25 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

9 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

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 \

Kids Definition of refugee

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


ref·u·gee | \ˌre-fyu̇-ˈjē \

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).


evasion of direct action or statement

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