run·​away | \ ˈrə-nə-ˌwā How to pronounce runaway (audio) \

Definition of runaway

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : one that runs away from danger, duty, or restraint : fugitive
2 : the act of running away out of control also : something (such as a horse) that is running out of control
3 : a one-sided or overwhelming victory



Definition of runaway (Entry 2 of 3)

1a : running away : fugitive
b : leaving to gain special advantages (such as lower wages) or avoid disadvantages (such as governmental or union restrictions) runaway shipping firms a runaway shop
2 : accomplished by elopement or during flight
3 : won by or having a long lead a runaway success also : extremely successful a runaway best seller
4 : subject to uncontrolled changes runaway inflation
5 : being or operating out of control a runaway oil well a runaway nuclear reactor

run away

ran away; run away; running away; runs away

Definition of run away (Entry 3 of 3)

intransitive verb

1a : to leave quickly in order to avoid or escape something
b : to leave home especially : elope
2 : to run out of control : stampede, bolt
3 : to gain a substantial lead : win by a large margin
run away with
1 : to take away in haste or secretly especially : steal
2 : to outshine the others in (something, such as a theatrical performance)
3 : to carry or drive beyond prudent or reasonable limits your imagination ran away with you

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Examples of runaway in a Sentence

Adjective The play was a runaway success. a region plagued by runaway suburban sprawl Verb ran away from an unhappy marriage the child runs away from large dogs
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Some of the girls were runaways or foster children; Mr. Epstein would ask some girls to recruit others to bring to his properties. New York Times, "Jeffrey Epstein, Billionaire Long Accused of Molesting Minors, Is Charged," 6 July 2019 Some of the girls were runaways or foster children; Epstein would ask some girls to recruit others to bring to his properties. Patricia Mazzei,, "Jeffrey Epstein, billionaire long accused of molesting minors, charged in New York," 6 July 2019 The Amber alert is not used for family abductions and runaways unless the child's life is in immediate danger. Sophie Carson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "'Please don't kill me': Neighbors heard screams, called 911 on evening mother, children were last seen alive," 17 Feb. 2020 The End of the F***ing World changed the ending so that teenage runaways Alyssa and James could keep on running. Kristen Baldwin,, "5 TV trends to retire in 2020," 2 Dec. 2019 And knowing the cats aren’t just recent runaways suggests trapping in the forest, rather than simply neutering village cats, might be the quickest way to control them, Murphy said. Joshua Sokol, Science | AAAS, "Madagascar’s mysterious, lemur-eating cats started as ship stowaways," 10 Mar. 2020 The girls ranged in age from preteen to teens, and many lived in foster homes, group homes, or were runaways or in dire financial straits, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Petersen said. Elvia Malagón,, "Chicago man gets 22 years in prison after luring teen girls into sex via Facebook, promising cash," 30 Sep. 2019 Players, led by a runaway David Peralta, streamed out of the dugout. Jeremy Cluff, azcentral, "Madison Bumgarner made history on Arizona Diamondbacks' Opening Day … in 2017," 26 Mar. 2020 The Chronicle’s front page from Jan. 2, 1967, featured the new Governor’s swearing-in, fighting in Vietnam, an upsurge in teen runaways, and a Hells Angels party. Caron Creighton,, "Bay Briefing: An NBA minor-league player follows his dream at any cost," 2 Jan. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Ali was the runaway winner with 1,764 votes, more than double the votes of runner-up Secretariat (822). Jason Frakes, The Courier-Journal, "Check out who you voted to be on the Mount Rushmore of Kentucky Sports," 24 May 2020 Goldman said that in many campaigns, a few ads become the runaway winners. Ian Bogost, The Atlantic, "How Facebook Works for Trump," 17 Apr. 2020 Pelosi was a runaway winner in the primary and has an overwhelming advantage in fundraising. John Wildermuth,, "California Democrats who flipped seats in 2018 have plenty of cash for 2020," 17 Apr. 2020 Just as in Iowa, polls in New Hampshire aren’t foreshadowing a runaway winner. Joshua Jamerson, WSJ, "Race Moves to New Hampshire as Iowa Remains in Flux," 4 Feb. 2020 In other words, their loud talk, their indignation, their runaway-slave rage made the organizers quake. Frank B. Wilderson Iii, Harper's Magazine, "Color Theory," 30 Mar. 2020 After runaway spending on the 2014 Sochi Games and 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games, an Olympic mantra is avoid construction costs and white elephant venues. San Diego Union-Tribune, "2026 Olympics in Italy could slide over border to St Moritz," 3 Oct. 2019 While the Baltimore Police Department’s problems with runaway overtime spending tied to insufficient staffing have received more attention, the fire department has faced similar problems. Baltimore Sun Staff,, "Facing staffing shortages, Baltimore fire chief plans to combine recruiting of firefighter and EMTs," 5 Sep. 2019 Such complaints at least serve to check runaway deficit spending. Jonah Goldberg, National Review, "Unity Can Be Worse than Partisanship," 26 July 2019

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


1534, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1548, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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Time Traveler for runaway

Time Traveler

The first known use of runaway was before the 12th century

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Statistics for runaway

Last Updated

27 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Runaway.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for runaway


How to pronounce run away (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of runaway

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: someone (such as a child) who leaves home without permission : someone who runs away from home



English Language Learners Definition of runaway (Entry 2 of 2)

used to describe a person who has left home without permission or who has escaped from some place
: operating, running, increasing, etc., in a fast and dangerous way that cannot be controlled
: extremely successful


run·​away | \ ˈrə-nə-ˌwā How to pronounce runaway (audio) \

Kids Definition of runaway

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : someone who leaves a place (as home) secretly without intending to return
2 : a horse that is running out of control



Kids Definition of runaway (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : having left a place secretly with no intention of returning
2 : escaping from control a runaway horse

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More from Merriam-Webster on runaway

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for runaway

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with runaway

Spanish Central: Translation of runaway

Nglish: Translation of runaway for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of runaway for Arabic Speakers

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