Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. One who flees in search of refuge, as in times of war, political oppression, or religious persecution.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A person seeking refuge in a foreign country out of fear of political persecution or the prospect of such persecution in his home country, i.e., a person seeking a political asylum.
  • n. A person seeking refuge in a foreign country due to poverty and no prospect of overcoming said poverty in his home country, i.e., a person seeking an economic asylum.
  • n. A person seeking refuge due to a natural disaster.
  • n. A person formally granted a political or economic asylum by a country other than his home country.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. One who flees to a shelter, or place of safety.
  • n. Especially, one who, in times of persecution or political commotion, flees to a foreign power or country for safety.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To become a refugee; take refuge in another country; specifically, during the civil war in the United States, to take refuge in the Northern States: said of unionists in the Southern States.
  • n. One who flees to a refuge or shelter or place of safety.
  • n. One who in times of persecution or political commotion flees to a foreign country for safety.
  • n. One of a band of marauders during the American Revolution: so called because they placed themselves under the refuge or protection of the British crown: same as cow-boy, 3.
  • n. A unionist in the southern United States who, during the civil war, fled to the Northern States.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. an exile who flees for safety

Etymologies

French réfugié, from past participle of réfugier, to take refuge, from Old French, from refuge, refuge; see refuge.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From French réfugié, past participle of réfugier ("to take refuge"), describing early French protestants seeking refuge. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Not because "refugee" connotes someone from outside the country who seeks refuge from a political situation which it does, but because the term refugee makes it sound as though helping these people were optional and contingent upon our charitable feelings, rather than an obligation to our fellow citizens.

    Refugees. Evacuees. Okies.

  • You've heard on this broadcast, by the way, several people, including Reverend Jesse Jackson and others admonish us not to use the term refugee when describing the New Orleans citizens who have had to flee their homes.

    CNN Transcript Sep 7, 2005

  • Even a cursory review of reporting of such disaster of Hurricane Andrew, the 1993 Midwestern floods and wildfires through the West have all prompted the use of the term refugee by news organizations.

    CNN Transcript Sep 7, 2005

  • The nation's foremost news organizations, including the Associated Press, the "New York Times" and this broadcast uses the term refugee when and where appropriate.

    CNN Transcript Sep 7, 2005

  • The president, Jackson and others apparently think that news organizations created the term refugee just to describe victims of Hurricane Katrina.

    CNN Transcript Sep 7, 2005

  • Refugee mentality: Comrade Magapatona felt that the term refugee mentality was not clearly defined.

    REPORT, MAIN DECISIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE SECOND NATIONAL CONSULTATIVE CONFERENCE OF THE AFRICAN NATIONAL CONGRESS - ZAMBIA.

  • The law laid down a new, broader definition of the term refugee, established mechanisms for arriving at a level of refugee admissions through consultation with Congress, and established the Office of the United States Coordinator for Refugees.

    State of the Union Address

  • The law laid down a new, broader definition of the term refugee, established mechanisms for arriving at a level of refugee admissions through consultation with

    State of the Union Address (1790-2001)

  • Oh yeah, and the refugee is a young woman -- young pregnant woman.

    Archive 2010-06-01

  • The iconic image of the refugee is a bedraggled woman clutching her child as she stumbles into a blighted aid camp.

    Carriers of Conflict

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