run·​off | \ ˈrən-ˌȯf How to pronounce runoff (audio) \

Definition of runoff

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a final race, contest, or election to decide an earlier one that has not resulted in a decision in favor of any one competitor
2 : the portion of precipitation on land that ultimately reaches streams often with dissolved or suspended material

run off

ran off; run off; running off; runs off

Definition of run off (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to recite, compose, or produce rapidly
b : to cause to be run or played to a finish
c : to decide (a race) by a runoff
d : carry out
2 : to drain off : draw off
3a : to drive off (someone, such as a trespasser)
b : to steal (animals, such as cattle) by driving away
run off with
: to carry off : steal ran off with the money

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Examples of runoff in a Sentence


the dog often ran off cats and other animals that had intruded upon his owner's property their rebellious daughter's run off because she was disciplined again

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

To gauge the importance of that runoff, La Frenierre, hydrologist G.-H. Crystal Ng of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, and their colleagues do a kind of watershed accounting. Tim Appenzeller, Science | AAAS, "Global warming has made iconic Andean peak unrecognizable," 11 Sep. 2019 While Ossoff will face a primary contest in the race for Perdue's seat, the race for Isakson's seat won't have any primary and will instead be open to all qualified candidates, significantly increasing the likelihood of a runoff. CBS News, "Jon Ossoff to challenge David Perdue for Senate seat in Georgia," 10 Sep. 2019 In both races, if a candidate doesn’t receive more than 50 percent of the vote a runoff election between the top two vote-getters will be held in December. Ryan Gillespie,, "Orlando mayor, City Council races are set. One incumbent wins re-election without opposition.," 13 Sep. 2019 Ballot insurance — securing an unaffiliated line on the November ballot while seeking a major-party nomination — is not uncommon in Connecticut’s cities, where the primaries can act as runoff elections. Mark Pazniokas,, "Moore not conceding to Ganim without reviewing options after Bridgeport primary loss," 11 Sep. 2019 The prospective trustees will square off in a November general election and, if necessary, runoff elections in December. Jacob Carpenter, Houston Chronicle, "Two HISD trustees to seek re-election, two bow out," 19 Aug. 2019 Their shade can extend the life of infrastructure by shielding it from the baking sun, and their roots prevent storm water runoff, something that will become more and more important as rising seas inundate coastal cities. Amy Crawford,, "Urban forests are crucial for combating climate change, but planting more trees is easier said than done," 16 Aug. 2019 Farmers have started to use more cover crops to prevent runoff and to build embankments to contain the soil, but as the climate crisis has increased, heavy rains will continue to cause problems with flooding. Jen Christensen, CNN, "The Gulf dead zone was expected to be a record-breaker. A hurricane may have stopped it," 1 Aug. 2019 Firefighters requested the sand to prevent runoff to Glenns Creek, Chandler added. Author: Mike Stunson, Ryan Hermens, Anchorage Daily News, "Jim Beam warehouse holding 40,000 barrels of bourbon destroyed in fire," 3 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

He was discovered by firefighters responding to reports of smoke near their campsite, and told authorities Holminski had attacked him and run off into the woods. Nate Gartrell, The Mercury News, "Murder conviction upheld for East Bay man who killed friend during camping trip," 4 Sep. 2019 When Ross put the car in drive, the man jumped out, fired into the car and ran off. Elizabeth Zavala,, "Man convicted in fatal shooting that occurred in front of woman, baby," 30 Aug. 2019 Rain fall is going to either settle into the soil and stay there, or, if there’s a lot, run off into rivers and end up far away. Mahita Gajanan, Time, "A Record Number of Fires Are Currently Burning Across the Amazon Rainforest," 21 Aug. 2019 The witness offered to settle the issue with fists but Jeans shot two rounds in the air and ran off. William Langhorne, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Cudahy man charged with shooting into a car with 6-year-old inside," 3 Aug. 2019 Varriale did have his gun, but after Natale-Hjorth stopped punching and scratching and ran off, the officer turned his attention to his wounded partner, Gargaro said. Fox News, "San Francisco teens used 7-inch combat knife in alleged killing of unarmed Italian cop: police," 31 July 2019 A year ago Johnson came off the British and ran off a win and three top 10s to finish out the season. Ryan Asselta,, "Picks and Daily Fantasy Plays for the WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational," 23 July 2019 There was a brief struggle during which the suspect struck the victim on the head before grabbing his wallet and running off, investigators said. Wayne K. Roustan,, "Masked home invader robs victim, but video provided glimpse of face," 20 July 2019 The caller reported that one man was down and a second man had run off. Teri Figueroa, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Police investigating after man stabbed to death in Carlsbad," 10 July 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'runoff.' 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 runoff


1867, in the meaning defined at sense 2


1680, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

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Statistics for runoff

Last Updated

9 Oct 2019

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Time Traveler for runoff

The first known use of runoff was in 1680

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More Definitions for runoff



English Language Learners Definition of runoff

: an additional race, contest, or election that is held because an earlier one has not resulted in a winner
: water from rain or snow that flows over the surface of the ground into streams

More from Merriam-Webster on runoff

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with runoff

Nglish: Translation of runoff for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about runoff

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