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

In the first five months of this year, Guatemala received just 172 asylum requests, according to the United Nations refugee agency, and has received about 1,300 since 2002. Vivian Salama, WSJ, "Guatemala to Discuss Absorbing Central American Asylum Seekers," 11 July 2019 In Omar’s version, America isn’t the big hearted country that saved her from a brutal war and a bleak refugee camp. Joey Morona,, "Ilhan Omar says Fox News’ Tucker Carlson is ‘a racist fool’ after he called her living proof U.S. immigration laws are ‘dangerous’," 10 July 2019 Asylum-seekers can only receive refugee status through the Living Waters Community, the United Nations Refugee Agency’s local implementing chapter in Trinidad, which coordinates the application and approval of asylum status. NBC News, "Trinidad criticized for lack of action as Venezuelan migrants flee to the island nation," 10 July 2019 In June 2018, the Shalbagan refugee camp in Bangladesh, home to 41,000 Rohingya—the Muslim minority group that fled genocide in Myanmar—became the first of 30 new camps to elect leaders. Jennifer Chowdhury, Marie Claire, "Rohingya Women Aren't Just Refugees—They're Leaders," 9 July 2019 If Nichole's refugee status in Canada is revoked, then a dangerous precedent is set. Elena Nicolaou,, "Why Emily's "Criminal" Track Record Puts Her At Risk Of Heading Back To Gilead In The Handmaid's Tale," 5 July 2019 More than 3,000 migrants are in danger because they are held in detention centers near the front lines, the U.N. refugee agency said. Author: Rami Musa, Samy Magdy, Anchorage Daily News, "Airstrike kills 44 migrants in Libyan detention center," 3 July 2019 People who are in detention, who are seeking asylum or refugee status or have experienced border crossings, are fleeing violence and threat. S.e. Smith, Vox, "Meet the people fighting for health care access for disabled kids detained at the border," 26 June 2019 Hadia and Ronah lived just a few yards apart, their small clusters of mud-and-thatch houses nearly touching behind a row of market stalls in Bidibidi refugee camp in Uganda. Nina Strochlic, National Geographic, "Mourning refugees risk a war zone to bury their dead at home," 20 June 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

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an act or instance of editing or removing

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