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 Following last year’s elections, a series of special runoffs to fill legislative vacancies and even the surprise party switch of a Republican legislator in January, there are now 29 Democrats in the Senate and 61 in the Assembly. Los Angeles Times, "News Analysis: California’s Legislature tackled big issues in 2019. Bigger fights might be coming," 16 Sep. 2019 Historic weather records also show climate change is leading to stronger spring storms that spur nutrient runoff from farms and lawns, which, in turn, fuel algae blooms in lakes. Keith Matheny,, "Climate change transforming where fish in the Great Lakes region live," 16 Sep. 2019 Such a parking lot would have the potential to reduce stormwater runoff and flooding during heavy rains. Jennifer Johnson,, "Grant money for a 'green’ parking lot in Park Ridge is on hold," 16 Sep. 2019 Analysts expect no candidate to win an outright majority, and a runoff between the top two vote-getters is expected next month. Ben Hubbard, New York Times, "Tunisia Votes for a President as It Struggles to Build Democracy," 15 Sep. 2019 The areas of accomplishments include water management and stormwater runoff improvements. Laura Groch, San Diego Union-Tribune, "How they voted, Sept. 15," 15 Sep. 2019 Or the Potomac River where sewage and fertilizer runoff has produced a new breed of intersex fish? Max Holleran, The New Republic, "The Water Wars Are Here," 13 Sep. 2019 Excessive runoff from heavy rainfall will cause flooding of small creeks and streams, urban areas, highways, streets and underpasses as well as other drainage areas and low lying spots. Karen Zurawski, Houston Chronicle, "Katy residents keep watch after flood advisory," 12 Sep. 2019 The problem was speculated to be a combination of things: runoff from cattle pastures into the rivers, waste from slaughterhouses, human sewage, and the North Avenue Dam, a dam built in 1835 that was blocking some clean water streams. Jennifer Billock, Smithsonian, "Milwaukee’s Secret Salmon Runs," 10 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Both men ran off, and deputies found the dead man in a ditch close to the house, authorities said. Theresa Waldrop, CNN, "A Florida man says his pregnant wife saved his life in home invasion - with an AR-15," 4 Nov. 2019 Witnesses said the Durango driver and two passengers ran off without checking on Levy, the warrant says. Jesse Leavenworth,, "Manchester man charged with killing motorcyclist after high-speed crash in East Hartford," 17 Oct. 2019 An Amish man and teen drinking beer while riding in the back of a horse and buggy equipped with a stereo system ran off after Ohio police pulled them over Sunday, officials said. Elisha Fieldstadt, NBC News, "Amish man and teen drinking in horse and buggy run after police pull them over," 18 Sep. 2019 The 24-year-old man ran downstairs, asked if everyone was okay, then ran off, police reports say. Adam Ferrise,, "Cleveland man accidentally shoots downstairs neighbor, police say," 3 Aug. 2019 The shooter ran off and remains at large, police said. Lauren Minor And Jennifer Edwards Baker,, "One hurt after an argument at a Banks party ends in a hail of gunfire," 22 July 2019 Helena claims Sylvie ran off with a fortune in jewelry. The Washington Post, The Mercury News, "Author mines familial loss and turns it into literary gold," 6 June 2019 On most snaps, the quarterback will either hand to a fullback up the middle, keep on a run off tackle or pitch to a running back farther on the perimeter. Greg Luca,, "UTSA preparing for Army’s triple-option onslaught," 13 Sep. 2019 The Cardinals scored all of their runs off Tyler Beede, who trailed 2-0 after nine pitches. John Shea,, "Giants’ Mauricio Dubon homers, doubles in loss to Cardinals," 2 Sep. 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

6 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for runoff

The first known use of runoff was in 1680

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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

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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