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

Keep scrolling for more

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

That election is scheduled for Nov. 6, with a possible runoff election on March 12. Jessica Boehm, azcentral, "Phoenix City Hall shake-up: What happens when Valenzuela, Gallego resign?," 10 July 2018 Down in Georgia, longtime Republican lieutenant governor Casey Cagle is locked in a close runoff race for governor with longtime secretary of State Brian Kemp. Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, "GOP Gubernatorial Candidate: Primary Was About Who Could Be the Craziest," 9 July 2018 Just before the 2009 Houston mayoral runoff election, 35,000 postcards were sent to houses across the city showing one of the candidates, Annise Parker, being sworn in as city controller next to the woman who is now her wife. NBC News, "Only 0.1 percent of elected officials are LGBTQ, new report finds," 22 June 2018 Their party's candidates generally agree on gun control and there hasn't been much debate so far in the runoff races. Fox News, "Texas liberal candidate bashed by national Democrats loses," 23 May 2018 Their party’s candidates generally agree on gun control and there hasn’t been much debate so far in the runoff races. Paul J. Weber And Will Weissert, star-telegram, "Former Dallas sheriff first Latina to win major party nomination for Texas governor | Fort Worth Star-Telegram," 22 May 2018 Cynthia Brehm, the front-runner in the May 22 runoff race for county chair, is aligned with that faction. Gilbert Garcia, San Antonio Express-News, "Brehm would lead local GOP further to the fringe," 8 May 2018 Early voting started Monday for the May 22 runoff, in which Valdez and White are competing for the Democratic nomination to challenge Republican Gov. Greg Abbott in November. Peggy Fikac, San Antonio Express-News, "Lupe Valdez reports outraising Andrew White in last campaign period, still far behind Gov. Greg Abbott," 15 May 2018 Coral reefs are facing many threats, including agricultural runoff, coastal development, overfishing and rising sea temperatures. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "Coral Reefs Need Fewer Rats and More Bird Poo," 12 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

In that one, Lopez was on the mound when the Nationals began to mount their comeback by scoring five runs off the pitcher, who was acquired in the David Phelps trade with Seattle last summer and began the season at Double A Jacksonville. Clark Spencer, miamiherald, "Early jitters prove costly to Marlins rookie in loss to Brewers," 10 July 2018 The Diamondbacks added a run off Craig Stammen in the eighth inning. Kevin Acee,, "Lucchesi gets hit, run, loss in Diamondbacks' 3-1 win over Padres," 6 July 2018 Eric Dier scored the decisive kick to end a run off five successive tournament exits on penalties, including the 2006 World Cup — the last time England reached the last eight. Houston Chronicle, "England defeats Colombia on PKs to reach World Cup quarterfinals," 3 July 2018 An Indians challenge took the run off the board and ended the inning. Pete Grathoff, kansascity, "Danny Duffy serves up slam as Royals fall to Indians, lose 60th game of season," 3 July 2018 The Brewers still had three outs to work with but couldn’t scratch a run off Wily Peralta, who pitched his way out of Milwaukee but is getting a chance to close games for the rebuilding Royals (25-55). Tom Haudricourt, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Wow, when's the last time you saw an opponent get to Josh Hader like this?," 27 June 2018 RH Enyel De Los Santos pitched four innings, allowing two runs off five hits and three walks. Nick Tricome,, "Phillies minor league report: Reading sweeps doubleheader against Portland," 20 June 2018 Four of them came in the ninth inning as the Tigers scored five runs off the Reds' bullpen. Anthony Fenech, Detroit Free Press, "Boyd slammed early as Detroit Tigers fall to Reds, 9-5, in Cincy," 19 June 2018 Riddle gave Richards a lead to work with his hit in the third inning, when the Marlins broke through with three runs off Chris Stratton. Craig Davis,, "Trevor Richards notches first big-league win as Marlins down Giants again," 13 June 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.

See More

First Known Use of runoff


1867, in the meaning defined at sense 2


1680, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about runoff

Statistics for runoff

Last Updated

11 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for runoff

The first known use of runoff was in 1680

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


an open space surrounded by woods

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Food Quiz

True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!