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

Keep scrolling for more

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
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

In the months since, a growing number of Saudi runaways have also used social media to raise awareness about the treatment of Saudi women and publicize their own pleas for asylum. Time Staff, Time, "The 25 Most Influential People on the Internet," 16 July 2019 According to the release, Wrench is a habitual runaway and has runaway over ten times in the last two years. Rebecca Hennes, Houston Chronicle, "Police: Missouri City teen reported missing may be victim of human trafficking," 2 July 2019 The 1996 movie Freeway recasts the wolf as a serial killer and Little Red Riding Hood as a teenage runaway. Ferris Jabr, Harper's magazine, "The Story of Storytelling," 10 Mar. 2019 Both teens were wanted for probation violations and under warrants as runaways for escaping from custody. Breanna Edwards, Essence, "Viral Video Shows Michigan Police Officer Punching Handcuffed Teen Girl," 18 June 2019 The federal government was prevented from introducing a head tax on slaves, and free states were forbidden from harboring runaways from slave states. Nicholas Guyatt, The New York Review of Books, "How Proslavery Was the Constitution?," 6 June 2019 Some female Saudi runaways fleeing abuse by their families have been caught trying to seek asylum abroad in recent years. Trevor Marshallsea, The Seattle Times, "Thai, Saudi officials meet over case of young Saudi woman," 8 Jan. 2019 In response, county child welfare leaders sent a letter to state officials in September saying Mary Graham was providing more mental health services and had taken steps to reduce the number of runaways from the shelter, among other changes. Joaquin Palomino, San Francisco Chronicle, "Girl’s undue jailing exemplifies plight of foster youth in custody," 17 Feb. 2018 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

The days of Golden State being the runaway championship favorite are almost certainly long gone. Rohan Nadkarni,, "Draymond Green’s Sacrifice Will Keep the Warriors’ Title Window Open," 3 Aug. 2019 The Tigers, the runaway favorite to win the Atlantic Division, garnered 171 first-place votes and 1,209 points in the division preseason ballot while Syracuse finished second with 913 points. Dan Shulman,, "BC predicted to finish fifth in ACC’s Atlantic Division," 22 July 2019 Pennywise is the beacon of nightmares in the upcoming sequel to the runaway success that was 2017’s IT, based on Stephen King’s popular 1986 horror novel. Alexia Fernandez,, "IT Chapter Two Is Getting Terrifying 'Clowns Only' Screenings Across the Country," 2 Aug. 2019 That runaway success has given some analysts pause. Danielle Wiener-bronner, CNN, "Beyond Meat spooks investors with discounted stock," 1 Aug. 2019 View Sample Sign Up Now The runaway success of Nanette looms large over Douglas. Trish Bendix, Time, "Hannah Gadsby’s New Show Douglas Takes a Hammer to the Patriarchy—Again," 25 July 2019 Over here in the United States, bossa nova became a full-blown phenomenon with the runaway success of Gilberto’s 1962 album with jazz saxophonist Stan Getz. Chris Richards, Washington Post, "João Gilberto sang lullabies to the future," 7 July 2019 Biolite Headlamp 200 Price: $40 Biolite takes a lot of the design features that made its 330-lumen headlamp a runaway success, and offers it in a more affordable package with fewer lumens, but no rear battery. Popular Mechanics Editors, Popular Mechanics, "All the Coolest New Gear From Outdoor Retailer 2019," 21 June 2019 Johnson is the runaway favorite to win the contest when the result is announced Tuesday. Washington Post, "Lawmakers impede next UK leader’s path to a no-deal Brexit," 18 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about runaway

Statistics for runaway

Last Updated

6 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for runaway

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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 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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


recurring in steady succession

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Musical Words Quiz

  • gramophone
  • Which word describes a musical performance marked by the absence of instrumental accompaniment?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!