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


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

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 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

In a grand display, that included a fiery runaway set against the backdrop of the Moroccan city of Marrakesh, Dior unveiled its Cruise 2020 collection. Lauren Rearick, Teen Vogue, "Dior Unveiled Their Cruise 2020 Collection," 30 Apr. 2019 But those moments usually were negative blips in otherwise stellar quarters of growth, fueled by the runaway success of the iPhone. Yoko Kubota, WSJ, "Apple’s Troubles Extend Beyond China," 3 Jan. 2019 Most foreign companies shunned Romania, with its primitive infrastructure and runaway inflation. James R. Hagerty, WSJ, "Dana Mead, Retired Army Colonel, Battled to Save Tenneco in the 1990s," 23 Nov. 2018 The daily disclosures of dangerous, embarrassing and shameless acts come at a particularly bad time for the Baltimore Police Department, which is battling a runaway crime problem in an environment already poisoned by deep mistrust in the police. Author: Timothy Williams, Anchorage Daily News, "Trial exposes brazen corruption by Baltimore officers," 7 Feb. 2018 The daily disclosures of dangerous, embarrassing and shameless acts come at a particularly bad time for the Baltimore Police Department, which is battling a runaway crime problem in an environment already poisoned by deep mistrust in the police. Timothy Williams, New York Times, "In Baltimore, Brazen Officers Took Every Chance to Rob and Cheat," 6 Feb. 2018 Another video on its website shows surveillance cameras zeroing in on the path of a runaway prisoner who ends up in an ailing relative’s hospital room. Dake Kang, The Seattle Times, "Exposed Chinese database shows depth of surveillance state," 20 Feb. 2019 Even the runaway hit rom-com of 2018, Crazy Rich Asians, has a hint of ensemble-overload to it. Chloe Angyal, Marie Claire, "The Only Thing Worse Than Valentine's Day Is Valentine's Day," 14 Feb. 2019 But Rome was forced to scale back the plan in December, bowing to bond traders driving up Italian interest rates on fears of runaway debt, and to EU leaders declaring the plan violated the union’s limits on deficit spending. Jacob M. Schlesinger, WSJ, "The Catch-22 of Globalization," 21 Jan. 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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Statistics for runaway

Last Updated

14 May 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 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

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 move with exaggerated bouncy motions

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