a person who is fleeing, from prosecution, intolerable circumstances, etc.; a runaway: a fugitive from justice; a fugitive from a dictatorial regime.


having taken flight, or run away: a fugitive slave.
fleeting; transitory; elusive: fugitive thoughts that could not be formulated.
Fine Arts. changing color as a result of exposure to light and chemical substances present in the atmosphere, in other pigments, or in the medium.
dealing with subjects of passing interest, as writings; ephemeral: fugitive essays.
wandering, roving, or vagabond: a fugitive carnival.

Origin of fugitive

1350–1400; < Latin fugitīvus fleeing, equivalent to fugit(us) (past participle of fugere to flee) + -īvus -ive; replacing Middle English fugitif < Old French
Related formsfu·gi·tive·ly, adverbfu·gi·tive·ness, fu·gi·tiv·i·ty, nounnon·fu·gi·tive, adjective, nounnon·fu·gi·tive·ly, adverbnon·fu·gi·tive·ness, nounun·fu·gi·tive, adjectiveun·fu·gi·tive·ly, adverb

Synonyms for fugitive

3. transient, passing, flitting, flying, brief, temporary. 5. momentary, evanescent, trivial, light. 6. straying, roaming.

Antonyms for fugitive

3, 4. permanent. 5. lasting.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for fugitive

Contemporary Examples of fugitive

Historical Examples of fugitive

British Dictionary definitions for fugitive



a person who flees
a thing that is elusive or fleeting


fleeing, esp from arrest or pursuit
not permanent; fleeting; transient
moving or roving about
Derived Formsfugitively, adverbfugitiveness, noun

Word Origin for fugitive

C14: from Latin fugitīvus fleeing away, from fugere to take flight, run away
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

Word Origin and History for fugitive

late 14c. (adjective and noun), from Old French fugitif, from Latin fugitivus "fleeing" (but commonly used as a noun meaning "runaway, fugitive slave, deserter"), from past participle stem of fugere "run away, flee," from PIE root *bheug- (1) "to flee" (cf. Greek pheugein "to flee," Lithuanian bugstu "be frightened"). Replaced Old English flyma.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper