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

Marechal has been regarded as a potential presidential candidate in the 2022 election, or later, raising occasional tensions with her aunt, who was roundly defeated in 2017 by Macron after making it to the runoff. Washington Post, "Rising French far-right star resurfaces and flirts with fire," 8 July 2019 Flooding can be a problem with the Des Plaines River flowing through Lincolnshire, but Markham said a drainage study is underway to find some answers to runoff. Steve Sadin,, "Rainy summer poses problems for Deerfield, Highland Park and area suburbs," 30 June 2019 Under South Carolina’s electoral system, if no candidate captures 50% of the vote, the top two finishers proceed to a runoff, which is exactly what happened to McMaster, who is now headed for another ballot on June 26. Philip Elliott, Time, "South Carolina Elections Show Trump Can Hurt. But Can He Still Help?," 14 June 2018 The winner needs an absolute majority, making an August runoff between the two top vote-getters likely. Fox News, "Guatemalans choose new president as many journey to US for better life," 17 June 2019 The winner needs an absolute majority, making an August runoff between the two top vote-getters likely. Washington Post, "Guatemalans choose president amid distrust, flight to US," 17 June 2019 If no one won a majority, a November runoff decided the contest. Anthony Man,, "It’s back to Democrats vs. Republicans as nonpartisan elections end for key Palm Beach County officials, including the sheriff," 10 June 2019 Currently, if a county supervisor candidate receives more than 50 percent of the June primary vote, he or she is elected, avoiding a November runoff. Dan Walters,, "Turning San Diego County blue," 20 June 2018 That just crossed the 50 percent threshold to avoid a runoff later this month between the top two contenders. John Whitesides, The Christian Science Monitor, "Pro-Trump challenger topples Rep. Mark Sanford in South Carolina primary," 13 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The Brewers tied the game with two runs off Padres starter Matt Strahm in the third, and the Padres answered with two in the bottom of that inning on an RBI triple by Greg Garcia and RBI single by Manuel Margot. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Padres sweep Brewers with big blast from Reyes, save from Stammen," 19 June 2019 The very first e-game drive vehicle was introduced on the continent in 2010, when South African lithium battery manufacturer Freedom Won converted a conventional Jeep Grand Cherokee to run off electric battery power. Lee Middleton, Quartz Africa, "Luxury safaris are trying to reinvent by getting greener and curbing an “Out of Africa” culture," 14 June 2019 War of Will ran off three straight victories to open his 3-year-old season, including the Grade 3 LeComte Stakes on Jan. 19 and the Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes on Feb. 16. Mark Inabinett |,, "Belmont Stakes 2019: Meet the contenders and watch them run," 3 June 2019 As the humorists say, the definition of a lawyer is a person who puts two people into a fight and runs off with their clothes. Ephrat Livni, Quartz, "In the Trump era, the lawyer jokes are on us," 31 May 2019 Rimac will develop prototypes for two high-performance electric cars, one of which will run off a hydrogen fuel cell. Clifford Atiyeh, Car and Driver, "Rimac is Helping Hyundai Make an N-Branded EV Hatch and a Sporty Hydrogen Car," 15 May 2019 Shocked and fearful, the men ran off to tell the rest of the army the about the supernatural animal and the powers of the Thozo people. Paul Steyn, National Geographic, "How the world’s largest lion relocation was pulled off," 2 May 2019 The series will star Merritt Wever and Domhnall Gleeson as exes who run off together on a journey of self-reinvention. Lauren Hubbard, Town & Country, "Who Is Phoebe Waller-Bridge, the Creator of Killing Eve and Fleabag?," 24 May 2019 Michigan has chipped in millions of dollars of its own, seeking to dramatically cut a major source of fuel for the algae blooms: fertilizers that run off farmers' fields into tributaries and on to the Great Lake. Keith Matheny, Detroit Free Press, "Study: After spending billions, fertilizer runoff feeding Lake Erie algae unchanged," 26 Apr. 2018

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

17 Jul 2019

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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

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