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
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

Verb 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 Luther is one of six candidates in the election, which likely will result in a runoff. Allie Morris, Dallas News, "Shelley Luther puts COVID-19 orders on ballot in Texas Senate race, claiming credit for Gov. Abbott’s reversals," 11 Sep. 2020 In the runoff for city attorney, Elliott leads Briggs in nearly every subgroup. David Garrick, San Diego Union-Tribune, "New poll shows Bry and Gloria nearly even in race for San Diego mayor, almost 30 percent undecided," 1 Sep. 2020 Peterson and Nielsen face one another in a runoff for mayor on Nov. 3. Alison Steinbach, The Arizona Republic, "Jenn Daniels talks about her next move and who she's endorsing for Gilbert mayor after her recent resignation," 30 Aug. 2020 In the Homewood mayor’s race, Patrick McClusky will be in a runoff Oct. 6 with Chris Lane. al, "Hoover mayor wins against challenger, plus other election news from central Alabama," 26 Aug. 2020 Since neither won at least 50% plus one vote, Felder and Antone are to be in a runoff in November. Leslie Postal,, "Bruce Antone shouldn’t be in Orange school board runoff, primary loser claims," 25 Aug. 2020 Reyes initiated the recount July 31 after a 45-ballot loss in the runoff. Cayla Harris,, "Tony Gonzales wins GOP nomination in San Antonio-area congressional district," 21 Aug. 2020 Rick Smith won an at-large seat on the Covington City Council on Aug. 15, beating Steve Stokes in a runoff. Staff Report,, "Rick Smith elected to open at-large seat on Covington City Council," 16 Aug. 2020 Bice is facing businesswoman Terry Neese in a runoff on August 25th. Caitlin Conant, CBS News, "Trump falsely says Biden, a practicing Catholic, is "against God"," 7 Aug. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb One evening later that year, Owen encountered a Hyundai Santa Fe that had run off the road. Washington Post, "A police officer shot a man in handcuffs. Months earlier, the department had been warned.," 8 Sep. 2020 The Rockets missed 12 of their first 15 shots and looked like they might get run off the floor by the No. 1 seed. Brian Mahoney, Houston Chronicle, "LeBron James, Anthony Davis help Lakers beat Rockets, tie series," 6 Sep. 2020 The Rockets missed 12 of their first 15 shots and looked like they might get run off the floor by the No. 1 seed. Brian Mahoney, Star Tribune, "James, Davis help Lakers hold on to beat Rockets, tie series," 6 Sep. 2020 Fike rushed for 78 yards on 17 carries in the first half, including the first score of the game, a 16-yard run off left tackle with 10:50 to go in the second quarter. James Weber, The Enquirer, "East Central gets statement win over Moeller Crusaders," 5 Sep. 2020 The Giants scored their only run off Gallen when Evan Longoria homered in the sixth. Arizona Republic, The Arizona Republic, "Diamondbacks break out of hitting slump, break streak in win over Giants," 29 Aug. 2020 Leger chases down a friend who’s run off with his money instead of securing an apartment for him. Will Coviello,, "'Most Wanted,' about a drug sting leading to a Thai prison, opens at Zeitgeist Friday, Aug. 14," 14 Aug. 2020 Harmon’s story highlights how Black teens continue to shape culture without getting proper credit, and how the viral nature of the internet can often run off with ideas while leaving their creators behind. Mark Armstrong, Longreads, "Meet the 14-Year-Old Dancer Who Invented The Renegade," 10 Aug. 2020 The Rays scored a run off Tanner Scott in the fifth, and the Orioles got it back with a run-scoring single by Anthony Santander. Jon Meoli,, "Orioles decide to play as athletes across sports strike in response to police shooting of Jacob Blake, lose 4-3 to Rays," 26 Aug. 2020

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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Time Traveler for runoff

Time Traveler

The first known use of runoff was in 1680

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Statistics for runoff

Last Updated

24 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Runoff.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for runoff


How to pronounce run off (audio)

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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