Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Running away or fleeing, as from the law.
  • adjective Of or relating to fugitives.
  • adjective Lasting only a short time; fleeting.
  • adjective Difficult to comprehend or retain; elusive.
  • adjective Given to change or disappearance; perishable.
  • adjective Of temporary interest.
  • adjective Wandering or tending to wander; vagabond.
  • noun A person who flees, especially from a legal process, persecution, or danger.
  • noun Something fleeting or ephemeral.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Fleeing or having fled from danger or pursuit, from duty or service, etc.; escaping; runaway: as, a fugitive criminal or horse.
  • Wandering; vagabond.
  • Staying or lasting but a short time; fleeting; not fixed or durable; readily escaping; fugacious: as, a fugitive idea; fugitive odors; fugitive colors.
  • In lit. of fleeting interest or importance; temporary; occasional: said of compositions, generally short, written for some passing occasion or purpose.
  • In zoology and botany, same as fugacious.
  • noun One who flees; a runaway; a deserter; specifically, one who has fled from duty, danger, or restraint to a place of safety or of concealment: as, a fugitive from the battlefield; a fugitive from justice.
  • noun Anything hard to be caught or detained.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective Fleeing from pursuit, danger, restraint, etc., escaping, from service, duty etc.
  • adjective Not fixed; not durable; liable to disappear or fall away; volatile; uncertain; evanescent; liable to fade; -- applied to material and immaterial things
  • adjective Such as are short and occasional, and so published that they quickly escape notice.
  • noun One who flees from pursuit, danger, restraint, service, duty, etc.; a deserter.
  • noun Something hard to be caught or detained.
  • noun (Law) one who, having committed a crime in one jurisdiction, flees or escapes into another to avoid punishment.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A person who is fleeing or escaping from something
  • adjective fleeing or running away
  • adjective transient, fleeting or ephemeral
  • adjective elusive or difficult to retain

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

  • adjective lasting for a markedly brief time
  • noun someone who flees from an uncongenial situation
  • noun someone who is sought by law officers; someone trying to elude justice

Etymologies

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

[Middle English fugitif, from Old French, from Latin fugitīvus, from fugitus, past participle of fugere, to flee.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old French fugitif.

Examples

  • These are things easily obtained in their freshness, but the term fugitive is too expressive of their nature, and after a generation or two they have all flown away, save those which the book-hunter has exorcised into the vaults of some public collection.

    The Book-Hunter A New Edition, with a Memoir of the Author

  • Bubbe used the word fugitive, which was the name of her second favorite TV show, next to Perry Mason.

    Roseanne Archy

  • Bubbe used the word fugitive, which was the name of her second favorite TV show, next to Perry Mason.

    Roseanne Archy

  • Bubbe used the word fugitive, which was the name of her second favorite TV show, next to Perry Mason.

    Roseanne Archy

  • Bubbe used the word fugitive, which was the name of her second favorite TV show, next to Perry Mason.

    Roseanne Archy

  • It is not for me to put my finger on the sore; but, alack! we all know that young maidens are what I call fugitive essences.

    The Fair Maid of Perth

  • It is scarcely questioned that this provision was intended by those who made it for the reclaiming of what we call fugitive slaves; and the intention of the lawgiver is the law.

    Abraham Lincoln: First Inaugural Address

  • It is scarcely questioned that this provision was intended by those who made it for the reclaiming of what we call fugitive slaves; and the intention of the lawgiver is the law.

    US Presidential Inaugural Addresses

  • It is scarcely questioned that this provision was intended by those who made it for the reclaiming of what we call fugitive slaves; and the intention of the lawgiver is the law.

    United States Presidents' Inaugural Speeches

  • It is scarcely questioned that this provision was intended by those who made it for the reclaiming of what we call fugitive slaves; and the intention of the lawgiver is the law.

    First Inaugural Address

Comments

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  • "But what peace of mind, after having been perpetually troubled by my restless desires for so many fugitive creatures whose very names I often did not know and who were in any case so hard to find, harder still to get to know, impossible perhaps to conquer, to have drawn from all that scattered, fugitive, anonymous beauty two choice specimens duly labelled, whom I was at least certain of being able to procure when I wished!"

    --Sodom and Gomorrah by Marcel Proust, translated by C.K. Scott Moncrieff and Terence Kilmartin, revised by D.J. Enright, pp 166-167 of the Modern Library paperback edition

    February 6, 2009

  • "It was no longer the same Albertine, because she was not, as at Balbec, incessantly in flight upon her bicycle, impossible to find owing to the number of little watering-places where she would go to spend the night with friends and where moreover her lies made it more difficult to lay hands on her; because, shut up in my house, docile and alone, she was no longer what at Balbec, even when I had succeeded in finding her, she used to be upon the beach, that fugitive, cautious, deceitful creature, whose presence was expanded by the thought of all those assignations which she was skilled in concealing, which made one love her because they made one suffer and because, beneath her coldness to other people and her casual answers, I could sense yesterday's assignation and tomorrow's, and for myself a sly, disdainful thought; because the sea breeze no longer puffed out her skirts; because, above all, I had clipped her wings, and she had ceased to be a winged Victory and become a burdensome slave of whom I would have liked to rid myself."

    --The Captive & The Fugitive by Marcel Proust, translated by C.K. Scott Moncrieff and Terence Kilmartin, revised by D.J. Enright, pp 500-501 of the Modern Library paperback edition

    February 10, 2010

  • "Looking back, I find it difficult to describe how densely her life was covered in a network of alternating, fugitive, often contradictory desires. No doubt falsehood complicated this still further, for, as she retained no accurate memory of our conversations, if, for example, she had said to me: "Ah! that was a pretty girl, if you like, and a good golfer," and, when I had asked the girl's name, had answered with that detached, universal, superior air of which no doubt there is always enough and to spare, for all liars of this category borrow it for a moment when they do not wish to answer a question, and it never fails them: "Ah, I'm afraid I don't know" (with regret at her inability to enlighten me), "I never knew her name, I used to see her on the golf course, but I didn't know what she was called"—if, a month later, I said to her: "Albertine, you remember that pretty girl you mentioned to me, who used to play golf so well," "Ah, yes," she would answer without thinking, "Emilie Daltier, I don't know what's become of her." And the lie, like a line of earthworks, was carried back from the defence of the name, now captured, to the possibilities of meeting her again."

    --The Captive & The Fugitive by Marcel Proust, translated by C.K. Scott Moncrieff and Terence Kilmartin, revised by D.J. Enright, p 551 of the Modern Library paperback edition

    February 11, 2010

  • "But even allowing for her lies, it was incredible how spasmodic her life was, how fugitive her strongest desires. She would be mad about a person whom, three days later, she would refuse to see. She could not wait for an hour while I sent out for canvas and colours, for she wished to start painting again. For two whole days she would be impatient, almost shed the tears, quickly dried, of an infant that has just been weaned from its nurse. And this instability of her feelings with regard to people, things, occupations, arts, places, was in fact so universal that, if she did love money, which I do not believe, she cannot have loved it for longer than anything else."

    -- The Captive & The Fugitive by Marcel Proust, translated by C.K. Scott Moncrieff and Terence Kilmartin, revised by D.J. Enright, p 552 of the Modern Library paperback edition

    February 11, 2010

  • "Every woman feels that the greater her power over a man, the more impossible it is to leave him except by sudden flight: a fugitive precisely because a queen."

    abrupt reaction of pain."

    --The Captive & The Fugitive by Marcel Proust, translated by C.K. Scott Moncrieff and Terence Kilmartin, revised by D.J. Enright, pp 571-572 of the Modern Library paperback edition

    February 15, 2010

  • "Now this love, born first and foremost of a need to prevent Albertine from doing wrong, this love had thereafter preserved the traces of its origin. Being with her mattered little to me so long as I could prevent the fugitive creature from going to this place or to that."

    abrupt reaction of pain."

    --The Captive & The Fugitive by Marcel Proust, translated by C.K. Scott Moncrieff and Terence Kilmartin, revised by D.J. Enright, p 585 of the Modern Library paperback edition

    February 15, 2010