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

But local officials and others questioned Monday whether the shelter could have done more to prevent Saturday’s runaway, regardless of the organization’s inability to use force to keep children from fleeing. New York Times, "Teenage Boy Who Fled Shelter May Be on Way Home to Honduras," 25 June 2018 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

So using only one approach to ruby collection—say, money—gets progressively harder, helping to prevent runaway leaders who have built up a specific kind of engine. Nate Anderson, Ars Technica, "Istanbul: The Dice Game," 20 Oct. 2018 Fox Searchlight In the past decade, David Lowery has made movies about thieves, runaway kids, ghosts, and giant dragons. Alissa Wilkinson, Vox, "Robert Redford bids farewell to the silver screen in the pitch-perfect The Old Man & the Gun," 28 Sep. 2018 The country is aiming to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, a goal most climate experts consider an absolute deadline if the world is to avert runaway warming of more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) by the end of the century. Fox News, "Small islands use big platform to warn of climate change," 27 Sep. 2018 Whiteside and Philip Earl Johnson will star in the 90-minute thriller about a mother’s search for her runaway daughter. Morgan Greene,, "Steven Dietz, Pearl Cleage in American Blues Theater's 2018-19 season," 6 Mar. 2018 Maybe runaway success require a youthful disregard for precedent or a willingness to blow up the traditional way of doing things? Michael Taylor, San Antonio Express-News, "The best age for entrepreneurship," 13 July 2018 Since launching in 2015, the Juul has been a runaway success. Fortune, "E-Cigarette Maker Juul Is Said to Seek $1.2 Billion in Funding," 30 June 2018 The runaway success of the North American bid was no guarantee as little as four months ago, despite vastly superior infrastructure and the promise of billions in more revenue. Adam K. Raymond, Daily Intelligencer, "U.S., Mexico, and Canada to Host 2026 World Cup, and Probably Play in It Too," 13 June 2018 But by that late date minivans overall were becoming passé, thanks to the original Ford Explorer’s runaway success. Ed Wallace, star-telegram, "The Future is Now," 8 June 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

1 Oct 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 clear from alleged fault or guilt

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