run·​off | \ ˈrən-ˌȯf How to pronounce runoff (audio) \

Definition of runoff

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a final race, contest, or election to decide an earlier one that has not resulted in a decision in favor of any one competitor
2 : the portion of precipitation on land that ultimately reaches streams often with dissolved or suspended material

run off

ran off; run off; running off; runs off

Definition of run off (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to recite, compose, or produce rapidly
b : to cause to be run or played to a finish
c : to decide (a race) by a runoff
d : carry out
2 : to drain off : draw off
3a : to drive off (someone, such as a trespasser)
b : to steal (animals, such as cattle) by driving away
run off with
: to carry off : steal ran off with the money

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Examples of runoff in a Sentence


the dog often ran off cats and other animals that had intruded upon his owner's property their rebellious daughter's run off because she was disciplined again

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The two candidates will face off in a runoff election on Aug. 13. Emily Alpert Reyes, Los Angeles Times, "Breaking up the status quo at L.A. City Hall? Both of these candidates argue they’ll do it," 5 Aug. 2019 Boris Johnson steps into role as new UK prime minister Britain's new prime minister, Boris Johnson, officially takes office on Wednesday, a day after winning of the Conservative Party's runoff election. Fatima Farha, USA TODAY, "Robert Mueller testimony, Boris Johnson takes over as Britain PM: 5 things to know Wednesday," 24 July 2019 Guatemalans in August will choose between a businesswoman/former first lady and a doctor in their country's presidential runoff election. Daniel González, azcentral, "Guatemalans in US don't expect Guatemala's next president will improve conditions driving migration," 24 June 2019 But preliminary counts strongly indicated that none of the 19 presidential aspirants would win a majority, forcing a runoff election Aug. 11 between the top two finishers. Patrick J. Mcdonnell,, "Guatemalans vote amid a widespread sense of uncertainty and disillusionment," 16 June 2019 Luke Orlando has won the Pearland City Council Position 1 seat following the June 8 runoff election against Derrell Isenberg. Jennifer Bolton, Houston Chronicle, "Orlando wins Pearland council runoff," 11 June 2019 As Malawi has no runoff election, whoever receives the most votes wins, even if the share is well below 50%. Gregory Gondwe, The Seattle Times, "Jobs, corruption top issues as Malawi votes for president," 19 May 2019 The money came to the Democratic Party committee in May, before Lundquist had defeated other Democratic candidates to get into the runoff or received the party endorsement. Emily Alpert Reyes, Los Angeles Times, "Fossil fuel money flows into council race in Valley area hit by Aliso Canyon methane disaster," 28 July 2019 First re-election: Davis defeated Ronald Price in another runoff election in June 2009 to secure a second term. Loyd Brumfield, Dallas News, "Carolyn Davis won tough election campaigns, fought for affordable housing before bribery allegations surfaced," 16 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

He was preceded by Earth, Wind & Fire, who ran off one smash hit after another. Chris Varias,, "Bobby Brown makes for memorable Cincinnati Music Festival," 27 July 2019 At the next sound of the horn, the loser—a flushed little boy with round cheeks and black lines on his cheekbones—ran off court in tears. Melody Chiu,, "Get a First Look at Kobe Bryant's Upcoming Young Adult Novel Legacy and The Queen," 26 July 2019 There are also 12-volt versions that run off your car or truck battery, which is useful when working out in the field. Joseph Truini, Popular Mechanics, "How To Sharpen Your Chainsaw Like a Pro," 24 July 2019 The victim gave up an unknown amount of cash and the suspect ran off, heading south on Linda Vista Road toward Tait Street, Heims said. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Taco truck owner robbed at gunpoint in Linda Vista, police say," 19 July 2019 Here’s a suggestion for visitors: Find a lovely old street of brick bowfront houses called St. Germain, which runs off of Massachusetts Avenue. Robert Campbell,, "One Dalton, Boston’s commanding new skyscraper, conjures architectural magic," 29 June 2019 The result was a virtual parallel processor that could run off a single central processing unit. Stephen Witt, WIRED, "Apollo 11: Mission Out of Control," 24 June 2019 The size of the annual spread depends on how much rain falls on Northeast Indiana, Southeast Michigan and Northwest Ohio between March and July and how much phosphorus runs off farms into the Maumee River which feeds into the lake. Mary Kilpatrick,, "EPA announces new program designed to clean up Great Lakes," 19 July 2019 The dog ran off and ultimately returned home, police said. Justin Jouvenal,, "Virginia officer shoots dog after it bites two people, police say," 11 July 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'runoff.' 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 runoff


1867, in the meaning defined at sense 2


1680, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

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Statistics for runoff

Last Updated

14 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for runoff

The first known use of runoff was in 1680

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More Definitions for runoff



English Language Learners Definition of runoff

: an additional race, contest, or election that is held because an earlier one has not resulted in a winner
: water from rain or snow that flows over the surface of the ground into streams

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More from Merriam-Webster on runoff

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with runoff

Nglish: Translation of runoff for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about runoff

Comments on runoff

What made you want to look up runoff? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to move or obtain by small maneuvers

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