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

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 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Fans raucously booed the Knicks fouling Zion after a steal, eliminating a potential runaway jam. Jake Fischer,, "Zion Williamson Creates Raucous Atmosphere in Summer League Debut," 5 July 2019 By attempting to regulate a technology that thrives on social networks, the state will be testing society’s resolve to get our (virtual) house in order after more than two decades of a runaway Internet. Noam Cohen, The New Yorker, "Will California’s New Bot Law Strengthen Democracy?," 2 July 2019 Yet this eight-track record is more than a victory-lap celebration of its creators’ runaway popularity. Mikael Wood,, "Review: J Balvin and Bad Bunny are a Latin-pop dream team on ‘Oasis’," 1 July 2019 Colorado’s hopes of a series win against the National League West’s runaway leaders vanished into a less-than-satisfying 2-2 split. Patrick Saunders, The Denver Post, "Rockies fall 10-5 to Dodgers, who scored six runs in sixth inning," 30 June 2019 The festival also seeks to draw attention to how artists are being pushed out of San Francisco and the Mission in particular amid the runaway gentrification of the neighborhood and the city. Sam Hurwitt, The Mercury News, "‘Above Ground’ spotlights the kind of new theater under threat in SF," 27 June 2019 Fears of runaway government surveillance have prompted recent attempts to curb facial recognition's growth. Jon Schuppe, NBC News, "Should police body cameras have facial recognition tech? Axon, the largest U.S. maker of devices, says no," 27 June 2019 While there are wigs aplenty strewn about The Act‘s eight-episode run, there’s only one delicious wig reveal, which occurs after Dee Dee tracks down a runaway Gypsy to a potential suitor’s home. Joey Nolfi,, "The best wig reveals of 2019 so far," 24 June 2019 Five people were injured Friday at the U.S. Open when a runaway golf cart hit a crowd of spectators. CBS News, "5 people injured by runaway golf cart at U.S. Open," 15 June 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

9 Jul 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).


an act or instance of editing or removing

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