- a person who flees for refuge or safety, especially to a foreign country, as in time of political upheaval, war, etc.
- political refugee.
Origin of refugee
- a person who has fled from some danger or problem, esp political persecutionrefugees from Rwanda
- (as modifier)a refugee camp; a refugee problem
1680s, from French refugié, noun use of past participle of refugier "to take shelter, protect," from Old French refuge (see refuge). First applied to French Huguenots who migrated after the revocation (1685) of the Edict of Nantes. The word meant "one seeking asylum," till 1914, when it evolved to mean "one fleeing home" (first applied in this sense to civilians in Flanders heading west to escape fighting in World War I). In Australian slang from World War II, reffo.