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

If no candidate receives more than 50%, the top two vote-getters will face off in an Oct. 28 runoff vote. Jeffrey T. Lewis, WSJ, "Brazil Votes in Divisive Presidential Race," 7 Oct. 2018 Alabama Republicans declined to re-nominate her in a primary election earlier this month, forcing her instead into a July 17 runoff vote. Jonathan Martin, New York Times, "Trump, Doling Out Endorsements, Embraces Former Critic in Alabama Race," 22 June 2018 The latest discussions indicate the runoff could end much sooner. Nick Timiraos, WSJ, "Fed Officials Weigh Earlier-Than-Expected End to Bond Portfolio Runoff," 25 Jan. 2019 Most of these pipes also do double duty, collecting rainwater runoff from rooftops as well as streets. Winnie Hu, The Seattle Times, "What happens when 25,000 Amazon workers flush toilets?," 11 Dec. 2018 Hyde-Smith is in a runoff on Nov 27th against Mike Espy. Dylan Scott, Vox, "The Mississippi Senate runoff, Dems’ last chance for one more 2018 upset, explained," 20 Nov. 2018 If a single candidate doesn’t secure more than 50 percent of the vote, the top two will advance to a primary runoff on Aug. 28. Rob Tornoe,, "2018 Election: Primaries in New York, Maryland, Utah, Colorado, Oklahoma, Mississippi and South Carolina," 26 June 2018 Analysts say the outcome could be decided in a second round runoff on July 8. Washington Post, "Turkey’s Erdogan seeks new term with greater powers," 21 June 2018 Those results mean McMaster will meet Warren, a Marine veteran who contributed more than $3 million to his own campaign, in the runoff on June 26. Benjamin Brown, Fox News, "Laxalt wins GOP nomination in Nevada governor race," 13 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

But who's the Democratic gets into to run off with him. Fox News, "Scaramucci: President Trump is winning on border security," 8 Aug. 2018 Asberry eventually ran off with a backpack from the car but was caught by officers at the intersection of Garden and Mather streets, police said. Sandra Gomez-aceves,, "Boy, 11, Fights Off Car Thief In Hartford," 2 June 2018 When the victim pulled out his cellphone to look it up, the stranger grabbed the $800 phone and ran off with it. Jane Ford-stewart, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Two robberies in three days to people near West Allis Public Library, despite construction," 24 May 2018 During the robbery, the men shot her in the arm and ran off with the purse, Crowson said. Samantha Ketterer, Houston Chronicle, "Woman shot while being robbed in Greater Inwood," 17 May 2018 When a homeless advocate allegedly ran off with the money, Davidson helped the Trump supporter by filing a lawsuit in an effort to reclaim the funds. Sara Sidner And Scott Glover, CNN, "Hush money deals business as usual for Stormy Daniels' ex-attorney," 27 Apr. 2018 There's no fingerprint reader, but there is a face-unlock system that runs off the single front camera. Ron Amadeo, Ars Technica, "Palm rises from the dead as a zombie brand, launches tiny smartphone," 15 Oct. 2018 Other features include a slatted wood ceiling, wall panels with cubbies, a deluxe remote operated ceiling fan with rain sensor, Two 12v power outlets, and LED dimming lights that run off of a 100ah auxiliary battery system and 400-watt inverter. Megan Barber, Curbed, "DIY camper van: 5 affordable conversion kits you can buy now," 1 Aug. 2018 Jaylen Brown scored 23 points and Al Horford had 20 for Boston, which ran off 17 points in a row in the first and never allowed the Cavaliers within single digits again. New York Times, "N.B.A. Playoffs: Celtics Stifle LeBron James and Pummel the Cavaliers in Game 1," 13 May 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

13 Feb 2019

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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More from Merriam-Webster on runoff

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with runoff

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

Comments on runoff

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a servile follower or underling

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