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

If the runaways of New York Fashion Week are any indication, then sparkly makeup isn't going anywhere. Lauren Rearick, Teen Vogue, "Models in Jeremy Scott's New York Fashion Week Show Wore Foil Lipstick," 7 Sep. 2018 Paul likely researched online how to be a successful runaway, investigators determined at the time. Ryan Gaydos, Fox News, "Letter arrives from Florida teen who vanished 5 years ago, family says," 1 Aug. 2018 The brave abolitionists who saved these and other runaways, Mr. Delbanco observes, have often been hailed as heroes. David S. Reynolds, WSJ, "‘No Property in Man’ and ‘The War Before the War’ Review: The Fuse the Founders Lit," 22 Nov. 2018 Typically, Howard said, runaways will come home and then leave again. Emily Bloch, Teen Vogue, "A Teen Has Been Confirmed Dead Four Years After He Ran Away From Home," 14 Aug. 2018 Many are runaways, or children who feel neglected or invisible at home. Laura Wallis, Glamour, "Meet Two Women Leading the Charge Against Sexual Abuse and Sex Trafficking," 12 Nov. 2018 The wrangled runaways are taken to Nemo Farm Animal Hospital at Cornell University, also in the Finger Lakes region, for a health evaluation. Zolan Kanno-youngs, WSJ, "Escape From New York: Slaughterhouse Refugees Have a Country Place," 1 Oct. 2018 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Artistically interesting and challenging work is almost always the exception to the rule, and even the best TV shows are often runaway trains behind the scenes, fraught with creative compromises and production issues. Todd Vanderwerff, Vox, "The 7 best TV shows of 2018," 26 Dec. 2018 In a booming region, with runaway housing prices and suffocating traffic, the Northgate development is the kind of project that’s supposed to help with both problems. David Gutman, The Seattle Times, "King County moves to allow affordable housing at future Northgate light-rail station," 9 July 2018 If destabilized, a lithium-ion battery could exhibit the thermal runaway effect and explode. Kim Komando, USA TODAY, "Make your phone's battery last longer, every day," 2 Feb. 2018 In season 1, a group of Los Angeles teens learn that their parents have spent years regularly sacrificing runaway kids to their mysterious alien benefactor Jonah (Julian McMahon), in exchange for wealth and power. Samantha Nelson, The Verge, "Season 2 of Runaways forges a bold new path — eventually," 21 Dec. 2018 Baby bangs have become a frequent staple on the runaway and IRL. Lauren Rearick, Teen Vogue, "Gigi Hadid Debuted Baby Bangs During a Photo Shoot," 18 Oct. 2018 Park police said one of the teens was a runaway and was taken to the Juvenile Supervision Center before being released. Jacob Taylor /, NBC News, "Viral video of handcuffed black teens in Minneapolis sparks police investigation," 12 July 2018 Dugas could get into trouble for harboring a runaway or any number of accusations. Karina Bland, azcentral, "For Father's Day, Arizona man finds the son he never knew he was looking for," 14 June 2018 The vote was Wednesday, the winners in a runaway over Morocco, which is missing basics such as stadiums, not that such matters has stopped FIFA before. Mike Jensen,, "The World Cup is coming, and memories from '94 flood back," 13 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

22 Jan 2019

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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More from Merriam-Webster on runaway

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with runaway

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for runaway

Spanish Central: Translation of runaway

Nglish: Translation of runaway for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of runaway for Arabic Speakers

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 gather or build up little by little

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