1 of 3


tru·​ant ˈtrü-ənt How to pronounce truant (audio)
: one who shirks duty
especially : one who stays out of school without permission


2 of 3


: shirking responsibility
: being, resembling, or characteristic of a truant


3 of 3


truanted; truanting; truants

intransitive verb

: to idle away time especially while playing truant

Examples of truant in a Sentence

Noun an increasing number of truants
Recent Examples on the Web
The two actors headlined the 1986 John Hughes classic, with Broderick playing the titular truant and Ruck playing his neurotic best friend, Cameron Frye. Devan Coggan,, 21 Mar. 2023 Others are battling substance abuse or pornography/promiscuity addictions, are frequent truants, or need help dealing with low self-esteem or social rejection. Judith Segaloff, Sun Sentinel, 23 Feb. 2023 The iconic '80s movie starred Matthew Broderick as the titular truant who skipped school alongside pals Cameron (Alan Ruck) and Sloane (Mia Sara), resulting in all kinds of comedic shenanigans, and now a new film will focus on two minor characters and their own misadventures. Philip Ellis, Men's Health, 20 Aug. 2022 And under California law, the letter reads, that means his son is considered a truant. Harmeet Kaur, CNN, 22 Oct. 2020 The film follows Antoine Doinel (Jean-Pierre Léaud), a 12-year-old truant causing trouble on the streets of Paris. Gabe Cohn, New York Times, 19 Mar. 2020 In the House of Representatives, East Bay Rep. Eric Swalwell was the top truant of the presidential contenders, missing 39.7 percent of votes this year. Casey Tolan, The Mercury News, 18 Aug. 2019 Ten were booked as runaways five as truants and one turned out to be an AWOL Marine from Camp Pendleton. Johnny Miller — Jack Viets, San Francisco Chronicle, 9 May 2018 In Park Hill School District about 150 students who observed the walkout were marked truant. Mará Rose Williams, kansascity, 20 Mar. 2018
Under a law that went into effect in 2019, the Illinois legislature banned schools from referring truant students to police so that they could be ticketed. Jennifer Smith Richards, ProPublica, 26 May 2022 Otherwise, he will be considered truant. Lois K. Solomon,, 4 Aug. 2020 The laws include greater punishments for crimes committed in ghettos, and the potential to halt social support for various infractions such as having children who are truant or don’t attend external child care for a certain number of hours in a week. Lenora Chu, The Christian Science Monitor, 2 June 2021 Critics point to her record of presiding over the arrests of parents — notably, mothers, according to HuffPost and The Orange County Register — of mostly Black truant students during her years as San Francisco's district attorney and California's attorney general. NBC News, 22 Sep. 2020 Because he’s been truant four times this year. The Denver Post: Crisis Point, 14 Jan. 2020 There’s a scene where the truant middle-schoolers find a brick of white that’ll have parents in the audience clutching their pearls. Craig D. Lindsey, Chron, 23 Feb. 2023 To be sure, the overwhelming majority of truant students do not become school shooters. Dallas News, 23 June 2022 Lawmakers learned recently that the Uvalde shooter was often truant. Dallas News, 11 July 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'truant.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



Middle English, vagabond, idler, from Anglo-French, of Celtic origin; akin to Old Irish trógán wretch, trúag wretched

First Known Use


14th century, in the meaning defined above


1561, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1580, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of truant was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near truant

Cite this Entry

“Truant.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


: a person who neglects duty
: a student who stays out of school without permission
truant adjective
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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