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
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

Verb 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 In Georgia’s Senate runoff elections on Tuesday, Mr. Fuller, 65, supported the Republicans Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, both of whom lost. New York Times, "Trump’s Legacy: Voters Who Reject Democracy and Any Politics but Their Own," 9 Jan. 2021 Schumer is slated to become majority leader around that time after Democrats won Georgia Senate runoff elections that will leave the Senate at 50-50. Susan Ferrechio, Washington Examiner, "McConnell hands off new Trump impeachment battle to Schumer," 8 Jan. 2021 Two US Senate runoff elections that together will determine which party controls the legislative chamber for the next two years were held in Georgia on Tuesday., "Trump officials resign after Capitol mayhem," 7 Jan. 2021 Vice President Mike Pence, who will oversee the session, said Monday at a campaign rally in Georgia ahead of the state's Senate runoff elections. Joey Garrison, USA TODAY, "GOP lawmakers miscast Congress' counting of Biden's electoral win as a fact-finding mission. It isn't," 6 Jan. 2021 The two Senate runoff elections are leftovers from the November general election, when none of the candidates hit the 50% threshold. Steve Peoples, Time, "Georgia Begins Counting Votes in Runoff Elections That Will Determine Control of U.S. Senate," 6 Jan. 2021 Democrat Raphael Warnock defeated Republican Kelly Loeffler Tuesday, NBC News projects, in one of two critical runoff elections in Georgia that will determine control of the Senate and potentially the fate of Joe Biden’s presidency. NBC news, "Fact check: Trump falsely suggests improper 'voter dump' as count continues in Georgia," 6 Jan. 2021 There was little concern at the time about those runoff elections in Georgia. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, "Georgia Shows the GOP’s Dismal Future Without Trump," 6 Jan. 2021 The eyes of the nation tonight turn to Georgia, where voters will finally decide two U.S. Senate runoff elections that will determine the balance of power on Capitol Hill over the next two years. Rey Mashayekhi, Fortune, "When will we know who won the Georgia Senate runoff elections? Probably not tonight," 6 Jan. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Cherokee Chatter: Sneaky speed evident here; could run off today and hold on for win. Michael Beychok,, "Check out Chok's Choices for Saturday's Fair Grounds races," 8 Jan. 2021 Against the top four or five teams in the rankings, UO would get run off the field. oregonlive, "Canzano: Looking for a statement about 2021 from Oregon Ducks in Fiesta Bowl," 2 Jan. 2021 With the clock running out, Steelers players stayed on top of the football to force more time to run off the clock. Baltimore Sun Staff,, "Ravens denied touchdown in strange sequence at end of first half vs. Steelers," 2 Dec. 2020 When Dani and Jamie get back to the bonfire, Owen is trying to get Hannah to run off to Paris with him. Shannon Carlin,, "The Haunting of Bly Manor," 13 Oct. 2020 Easton lost its first two games, including 40-25 to Karr, but has run off nine consecutive wins behind its defense. Darrell Williams,, "Warren Easton blows away Tioga in 4A quarters to set up meeting with Edna Karr," 11 Dec. 2020 After dropping their first two games of the season to Purdue and Northwestern, the Hawkeyes have run off five straight wins. Matt Murschel,, "Army-Navy highlights top 5 college football games to watch Saturday," 11 Dec. 2020 Tony Pollard — used as a changeup to Ezekiel Elliott on his 103-yard day — bounced a run off the right side of the Dallas line, beyond Jalyn Holmes and a desultory tackle attempt from cornerback Chris Jones. Ben Goessling, Star Tribune, "Vikings winning streak ended when Dallas scores late for 31-28 victory," 23 Nov. 2020 The second contest, pitting incumbent GOP Sen. Kelly Loeffler against Raphael Warnock, a Democrat who is the senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, will go to a run off because no candidate surpassed 50% of the vote total. Deirdre Shesgreen, USA TODAY, "'Everybody in Washington is pretty shocked': Democrats, GOP grapple with mixed emotions over election," 4 Nov. 2020

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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Time Traveler for runoff

Time Traveler

The first known use of runoff was in 1680

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Last Updated

16 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Runoff.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for runoff


How to pronounce run off (audio)

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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