run·away | \ ˈrə-nə-ˌwā \

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


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


The play was a runaway success. a region plagued by runaway suburban sprawl


ran away from an unhappy marriage the child runs away from large dogs
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Log Cabin Ranch has averaged about three or four runaways a year, though Nance said there have been some years without any. Matier & Ross,, "City closes youth corrections facility — residents keep running away," 27 June 2018 According to a criminal complaint obtained by WBAY, police say Baxter was living with several juvenile runaways and injected them with methamphetamine daily in October. Scott Berson, charlotteobserver, "Wisconsin woman injected teens with meth and forced man into prostitution, police say | Charlotte Observer," 2 May 2018 The home had a grape trellis leading from the barn to the house that allowed the Blakes to safely move runaways. Brian Lisik/special To,, "Driver injured in head-on crash: Hinckley Police Blotter," 13 Feb. 2018 Eller said runaways are rare, noting that nearly 20,000 children are in Southwest Key shelters in Texas, Arizona and California. Molly Hennessy-fiske,, "Teen runaway highlights weakness in federal shelters holding young immigrants," 27 June 2018 Windermere Officer Robert German Died: March 22, 2014 Cause: German, 31, was gunned down during an encounter with two teenage runaways, Brandon Goode and Alexandria Hollinghurst, who then committed suicide. Jeff Weiner,, "Peace Officers Memorial Day: These Orlando-area officers lost their lives on duty in the past decade," 15 May 2018 The race looked like a runaway for Kyle Busch, who had a lead of about two seconds with 20 laps to go on the 1.5-mile oval. Mike Hembree, USA TODAY, "Hembree: Kyle Busch, Kyle Larson stage dramatic duel in Cup season's best finish," 1 July 2018 Two of the runaways were corralled by San Mateo County deputies the next morning on nearby San Gregorio State Beach, Nance said. Matier & Ross,, "City closes youth corrections facility — residents keep running away," 27 June 2018 If a woman ventures out, her guardian could report her to the authorities as a runaway. Lara Takenaga, New York Times, "For Saudi Women, Challenges Go Far Beyond Driving," 23 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

African American history with the railroad began during the Civil War, when runaway slaves became what's known as contraband soldiers who were put to work by the Union Army. Mayra Cruz, Houston Chronicle, "Tomball to unveil model railroads that depict its history," 7 July 2018 And based on the runaway success of Hoda's post, Josie B. is going to be busy making lots of them in the future. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "Fans Are Going Wild for 'Today' Show Host Hoda Kotb's Doormat," 10 July 2018 As a lieutenant in the Battle of Bladensburg, Key and his men, got their behinds whooped on the battlefield by the Colonial Marines—runaway American slaves, who fought as sailors and soldiers for the British in return for their freedom. Felice León, The Root, "The National Anthem Is Racist, and We Made a Video in Case You Forgot," 4 July 2018 The same passage was cited before the Civil War to justify slavery, to allow slave hunters to return runaway slaves to their owners and to pull slave children away from mothers. Russell Contreras,, "Other times in history when the U.S. separated families," 20 June 2018 Underground Railroad The same mural features Caroline Quarlles, a 16-year-old runaway slave from St. Louis who traveled to Milwaukee in 1842 via the Underground Railroad. Meg Jones, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Key civil rights spots in Milwaukee," 23 Mar. 2018 Mathew Barzal was the runaway winner here, but the rest of the ballot was tougher than imagined. Matthew Defranks,, "Matthew DeFranks explains the reasoning behind his NHL awards ballot," 21 June 2018 The couple documents their runaway with a vintage Polaroid camera and camcorder. Heran Mamo, Billboard, "Selena Gomez Presents Snappy Silent Film For 'Back To You' Visual: Watch," 5 June 2018 Highlands pastry chef Dolester Miles was also named best in the country, making the restaurant the runaway winner at the awards. Justin Ocean,, "A Restaurant in Birmingham, Alabama, Is Voted Best in America," 8 May 2018

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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Statistics for runaway

Last Updated

20 Aug 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for runaway

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

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More Definitions for runaway



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 \

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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Comments on runaway

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


to make amends

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