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[ruhnt] /rʌnt/
an animal that is small or stunted as compared with others of its kind.
the smallest or weakest of a litter, especially of pigs or puppies.
a person who is small and contemptible:
That runt causes most of the trouble at the meetings.
British Dialect.
  1. an old or decayed tree stump.
  2. an old cow or ox.
  3. an ugly old woman; hag.
Origin of runt
1495-1505; perhaps < Dutch rund bull, cow, ox; akin to German Rind cattle
Related forms
runtish, adjective
runtishly, adverb
runtishness, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for runt
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He had been right in his conjecture, Slim was “the runt of something good.”

    The Man from the Bitter Roots

    Caroline Lockhart
  • Who'd have thought that the runt was the smartest of the family?

    The Tale of Grunty Pig Arthur Scott Bailey
  • And if he objected—as he usually did—they were sure to laugh and call him "runt."

    The Tale of Grunty Pig Arthur Scott Bailey
  • A runt from under the Mormon ditch; we raise bigger on our land.

    The Lady Doc

    Caroline Lockhart
  • Men with hearts in them; and Rosy, let me tell you, is no runt in that litter.

    Red-Tape and Pigeon-Hole Generals William H. Armstrong
  • "Two touchdowns and a goal have happened," said runt Woods gloomily.

  • "It's lucky that runt of a Reynolds held his tongue," he said hotly.

    Stover at Yale Owen Johnson
  • Finally, the type specimen of munda is a "runt," smaller than any other male seen.

    American Weasels E. Raymond Hall
  • Watch that, runt, or I'll get off and put my foot in your mouth and pull you on like a boot!

    The Draw Jerome Bixby
British Dictionary definitions for runt


the smallest and weakest young animal in a litter, esp the smallest piglet in a litter
(derogatory) an undersized or inferior person
a large pigeon, originally bred for eating
Derived Forms
runtish, adjective
runty, adjective
runtiness, noun
Word Origin
C16: origin unknown
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for runt

c.1500, "old or decayed tree stump," of unknown origin. Meaning extended to "small ox or cow" (1540s) and by 1610s generally to undersized animals and people. Specific American English sense of "smallest of a litter" (especially of pigs) is attested from 1841. Some see a connection to Middle Dutch runt "ox," but OED thinks this unlikely, and pronounces the word "of obscure origin." Related: Runty (1807).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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