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 The film explores the injustice and terror perpetrated at the Polish-Belarusian border from the perspective of refugees, Polish activists and border guards. Elsa Keslassy, Variety, 21 Nov. 2023 Juliette Touma, spokeswoman for the agency for Palestinian refugees, said 120,000 liters (31,700 gallons) of fuel arrived, meant to last for two days, after Israel agreed Friday to allow in that amount for the U.N.'s use. Najib Jobain, Bassem Mroue, and Samy Magdy, The Christian Science Monitor, 18 Nov. 2023 The Palestine Red Crescent Society said a number of people were killed in a strike on a building in the Balata refugee camp. NBC News, 18 Nov. 2023 In the decades that followed, there was a large influx of Jewish refugees from Europe as many fled Nazi persecution under Hitler and, during World War II, the Holocaust. Daniel Wolfe, Washington Post, 17 Nov. 2023 In August, the Department of Justice sued the company for discriminating against legal asylum seekers and refugees in hiring, a violation of U.S. law. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, 17 Nov. 2023 But Haley's response has been repeatedly mischaracterized by the DeSantis campaign, and now by Scott, in recent weeks despite the fact that during the same interview, Haley said nothing about resettling Palestinian refugees in the United States. Abby Cruz, ABC News, 11 Nov. 2023 Last Updated: Live Coverage Feed 1 hour ago Israel Strikes Sites Inside Gaza Refugee Camp Israel’s navy hit Hamas targets in Gaza overnight, including weapons depots and military objectives inside the Al-Shati refugee camp that had been identified by ground troops, the Israel Defense Forces said. Eric Sylvers, WSJ, 11 Nov. 2023 Among those killed are more than 100 staff members of a United Nations agency supporting Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, and at least 40 journalists and other media workers, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Neil Collier, New York Times, 10 Nov. 2023 See More

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 4 Dec. 2023.

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)

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