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

Adjective The play was a runaway success. a region plagued by runaway suburban sprawl Verb ran away from an unhappy marriage the child runs away from large dogs
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The reporter got his scoop, then called the authorities, who put her in juvenile detention as a runaway., "The girl in the Kent State photo and the lifelong burden of being a national symbol," 20 Apr. 2021 The reporter got his scoop, then called the authorities, who put her in juvenile detention as a runaway. Patricia Mccormick, Washington Post, "The Girl in the Kent State Photo," 19 Apr. 2021 The vehicle contained two 14-year-old boys and a 12-year-old girl who had been reported to police as a runaway, the release stated. Brianna Kwasnik, Arkansas Online, "Teen killed, 2 minors injured in Saline County crash, deputies say," 26 Mar. 2021 The suspect had been reported as a runaway by his parents the previous day. Cheryl Higley, cleveland, "Suspect charged with receiving stolen property: North Ridgeville police blotter," 6 Mar. 2021 He was first sentenced to 25 years to life in May 1991 for the murder of 17-year old Darcie Frackenpohl, a runaway from Seattle whose body was found at Echo Summit in El Dorado County. Fox News, "California inmate says he killed ‘I-5 Strangler’ in letter to news outlet," 1 Apr. 2021 The Trojans blasted Auburn commitment Elliott Bray for eight runs in the opening inning and cruised to a 21-1 runaway. al, "Hazel Green baseball pouring on the runs while getting pitchers warmed up," 16 Mar. 2021 River Tam, played by Summer Glau, was a young runaway born with genius intellect who throughout the season is treated like a pseudo-child after brutal government experiments leave her traumatized and with erratic psychic powers. Gabrielle Sanchez, Vulture, "A Complete Timeline of Every Joss Whedon Controversy," 24 Mar. 2021 Frantz Mersier, 30, and Paula Barboza, 25, are accused of offering a place to stay to the teenager who was a runaway from a group home, prosecutors said. Wayne K. Roustan,, "Federal grand jury indicts two for trafficking 16-year-old girl for sex, prosecutors say," 23 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Restaurant chains have been focusing on improving their chicken sandwiches in the wake of the runaway success of Popeye's chicken sandwich, which arrived on the scene in 2019. Danielle Wiener-bronner, CNN, "KFC's biggest challenge: People can't get enough of its fried chicken sandwich," 28 Apr. 2021 NFTs have received a tidal wave of attention after Beeple's $69M art auction and the runaway success of NBA Topshots. Aswin Pranam, Forbes, "ACE—An NFT Based Funding Platform—Is Giving Talent Their Power Back," 26 Apr. 2021 Unfortunately, its runaway success would unfairly cast a long shadow over the rest of Jacobs’ career. Washington Post, "Shock G of Digital Underground was a psychedelic rap pioneer who helped hip-hop crossover," 24 Apr. 2021 His book was a runaway success, inspired a wave of imitators and influenced Voltaire and Diderot. Claudia Kalb, Smithsonian Magazine, "Before He Wrote a Thesaurus, Roget Had to Escape Napoleon’s Dragnet," 21 Apr. 2021 After the runaway success of Widow, expectations for Gurganus’s second novel were sky-high. Justin Taylor, Harper's Magazine, "Every True Pleasure Is a Secret," 16 Mar. 2021 Going by total time with the organization, Orlando Arcia is the runaway winner at 12 seasons. Tom Haudricourt, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Entering his sixth season with the Brewers, backup catcher Manny Piña is as reliable as they come," 24 Mar. 2021 Noah may be the only nominee who won't challenge your autocorrect, but Megan Thee Stallion is the runaway winner. Jon Bream, Star Tribune, "Grammy predictions: Billie Eilish and Taylor Swift once again," 12 Mar. 2021 Last year, Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks was a runaway winner. New York Times, "The 7 N.B.A. All-Stars Who Would Be King (or Just M.V.P.)," 26 Feb. 2021

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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Time Traveler for runaway

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for runaway

Last Updated

22 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Runaway.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 May. 2021.

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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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