run·​off | \ˈrən-ˌȯf \

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


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

Roberto Zárate’s election to another term on the Alamo Colleges board is no longer contested after challenger James Hernandez, who lost last month’s runoff election by two votes, halted a recount and conceded. Alia Malik, San Antonio Express-News, "Challenger halts Alamo Colleges runoff recount," 11 July 2018 The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced on Wednesday that Jennifer Todd has won a runoff election for a seat on the group’s 54-member board of governors representing the producers branch. Josh Rottenberg,, "Producer Jennifer Todd wins spot on motion picture academy's board of governors," 21 June 2018 Whoever wins the July 17 runoff will face Democrat Tabitha Isner in the November general election. Kaitlyn Schallhorn, Fox News, "Alabama's Bright, Roby face runoff election: A look at the congressional candidates," 13 July 2018 The stout sexagenarian lives in Sham Shui Po, a seedy, working-class neighborhood where grimy highrises drip AC runoff onto the market stalls, methadone clinics and brothels below. Casey Quackenbush / Hong Kong, Time, "'We're Not Educated.' The Untold Story of Lung King Heen, the World's First Michelin Three-Star Chinese Restaurant," 12 July 2018 Moving around the nutrient-dense lake water, fouled by runoff from septic tanks, ranches and sugar farms, is something like a game of hot potato. Alex Harris, miamiherald, "Army Corps can’t promise 2016’s algae blooms won’t return, but this strategy may help," 12 July 2018 To protect water quality, Shatynski’s garden produces no runoff. Dawn Standke,, "Tally up your garden’s earth friendliness," 12 July 2018 Barton says reforestation would also help mitigate the problem of leftover pollution, because trees naturally temper such storm runoff. Leslie Nemo, Scientific American, "From Defiled to Wild—Can a Spent Coal Mine Be Reborn as a Nature Conservation Center?," 11 July 2018 But Okeechobee is rife with chemicals and nutrients from agricultural and development runoff—and the combination of nutrient-rich waters and warm temperatures create ideal conditions for algal blooms. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "A Toxic Algal Bloom Is Spreading in Florida’s Waterways," 10 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Focusing on negative splits—that is, starting my runs off approximately 20 to 30 seconds slower than my ideal mile time—has allowed me to complete longer distances at a more comfortable pace. Alexa Tucker, SELF, "Runners Share 23 Small Training Tips That Changed Everything for Them," 11 Oct. 2018 The Orioles left the bases loaded in the fourth against Lynn, and their only run off him came on Chris Davis’ two-out RBI single in the sixth inning. Eduardo A. Encina,, "Orioles, Bundy done in early in 6-2 loss to Twins, have lost 11 of 12," 6 July 2018 The Marlins scored three runs off Guilmet for a 5-2 lead in the fifth., "Jose Urena gets first win of season as Marlins snap six-game losing streak," 6 June 2018 The second time around, Masco plated six runs off Gonzalez in five innings. Matt Doherty,, "Andrew Manni throws no-hitter for Masconomet boys’ baseball," 18 May 2018 Trailing 11-0 in the sixth, the Athletics scored their only run off Keuchel on a groundout. Hunter Atkins, Houston Chronicle, "George Springer makes Astros history in blowout victory over A's," 8 May 2018 The Colonels then scored six runs off Highlands senior Hunter Dreves, who is signed with Tennessee. Shelby Dermer,, "Takeaways: La Salle, Covington Catholic capture big wins at Reds Future Showcase," 22 Apr. 2018 The Yankees scored four runs off Price (1-1) in the first inning before the lefty ace exited the game with a tingling sensation in his pitching hand. CBS News, "Yankees and Red Sox exchange punches at Fenway," 12 Apr. 2018 The Marlins scored three runs off Luis Garcia (0-1) and Adam Morgan in the eighth to take a 6-3 lead. Rob Maaddi,, "Marlins spoil Jake Arrieta's debut, beat Phillies 6-3," 8 Apr. 2018

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

6 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

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

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Comments on runoff

What made you want to look up runoff? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


something that serves to warn or remind

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