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Origin of runoff
Words nearby runoff
What is a runoff?
Runoff is liquid, especially water or rainwater, that flows off or drains away, as in The storm sewer could not hold all the runoff from the recent rains.
This sense of runoff is often used in the context of environmental science. It often refers to water that flows into streams or back into the water supply rather than seeping into the ground. For example, when farm crops are watered, any water that is not absorbed into the ground and drains away instead is runoff.
This term comes from the verb phrase run off, which can mean to drain or flow away, as in The wastewater runs off into the stream.
An unrelated but also common meaning of runoff refers to a competition that determines a final winner after earlier contests have narrowed down the competitors. Similarly, it can refer to a contest held to determine a winner when the initial contest did not produce one, such as when two people tie. This sense of the word is especially used in the context of political elections.
For example, a place may hold an election that features five candidates. After the election, the lowest vote-getter is removed and another election is held with the remaining candidates. This process is repeated until only two candidates are left. This final election, which finally decides the winner, is called a runoff.
Less commonly, the verb run off can mean to decide a winner through a runoff, as in The final contest will be run off at the end of the month.
Example: Due to the use of pesticides in many industrial farms, runoff becomes a major concern for local water supplies.
Where does runoff come from?
The first records of the noun runoff come from the 1850s. It was first used in the U.S. It’s based on the sense of the verb phrase run off.
Water runoff is a common byproduct of human activity and comes from sources such as factories, farms, and even houses. This excess water is usually contaminated in some way, such as with sewage.
Runoff elections are not common in the U.S. Only a dozen or so states use them to decide winners in state or federal elections. Other contests that use runoffs to decide a winner may use terms that reflect the type of contest it is, such as playoff for sporting events and cookoff for cooking contests.
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What are some other forms related to runoff?
- runoffs (plural noun)
What are some synonyms for runoff?
What are some words that share a root or word element with runoff?
What are some words that often get used in discussing runoff?
How is runoff used in real life?
Two of the distinct meanings of runoff are commonly used in the context of water drainage and elections.
The National Weather Service has issued a Flood Watch for our area. Runoff from the rain will cause flooding in low water crossings so be aware of your surroundings. Don't underestimate the power of water– just a few inches of rapidly flowing water can carry away your vehicle.
— Angelo State Honors (@AngeloHonors) September 21, 2018
Georgia 🍑 – important runoff dates!
Last day to resister to vote in the runoff is Dec 7. Please reach out to friends and college students and make sure they are registered! pic.twitter.com/hcIur8bZfn
— Amy Siskind 🏳️🌈 (@Amy_Siskind) December 4, 2020
HD28 special election (Nov. 2019) result:
6 combined Republicans 61%, Eliz Markowitz (D) 39%
HD28 runoff early voting result:
Gates (R) 59%, Markowitz 41%#txlege
— Texas Election Source (@TXElects) January 29, 2020
Try using runoff!
True or False?
In the context of rainwater that doesn’t sink into the ground, runoff refers to the body of water where it goes.
Example sentences from the Web for runoff
After winning reelection in a runoff, he was kicked off the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.Marjorie Taylor Greene would be in rare company if she is kicked off her committees|Aaron Blake|February 3, 2021|Washington Post
Streams, rivers, and lakes are especially vulnerable to water runoff that contains de-icing salts.Fish blood could hold the answer to safer de-icing solutions during snowstorms|By Monika Bleszynski/The Conversation|February 1, 2021|Popular Science
Yet for a brief moment in the summer of 2020 as Greene faced Cowan in a runoff, it seemed that other Republican Party officials would turn against her.How Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, promoter of QAnon’s baseless theories, rose with support from key Republicans|Michael Kranish, Reis Thebault, Stephanie McCrummen|January 30, 2021|Washington Post
He traveled twice to the state during the runoff campaign for speeches that largely focused on his own grievances against state Republican leaders.Georgia certifies Ossoff and Warnock victories, paving way for Democratic control of Senate|Amy Gardner, Erica Werner|January 19, 2021|Washington Post
After all, plenty of Republicans still showed up to vote — enough to help set a record for runoff turnout.
So then-President George H.W. Bush and other prominent Republicans endorsed Treen in the House runoff.
But what if a Louisiana runoff will determine which party controls the Senate?
“Do not allow liquid runoff to enter sewers or public waters,” the report states.
Tyner went on to note that correct legal remedy if the runoff was called into question was “a new election.”Could Chris McDaniel Get A Do-Over In The Mississippi Senate Race?|Ben Jacobs|July 10, 2014|DAILY BEAST
But like a lot of things in life, how hard you work matters, and in a short runoff campaign, every day is like a week.How Thad Cochran Pulled Off a Win Over Chris McDaniel (Simple, Really)|Stuart Stevens|June 30, 2014|DAILY BEAST
Gradual thawing would allow normal runoff without much penetration.Ecological Observations on the Woodrat, Neotoma floridana|Henry S. Fitch
Runoff is checked by a sod and less water is used by a sod in mid-summer, after it has been mowed, than by a heavy cover crop.Northern Nut Growers Association Report of the Proceedings at the Twenty-Fourth Annual Meeting|Northern Nut Growers Association
Scrub on the remainder, however, serves to stabilize the soil of the forest lands against erosion and to slow the runoff of water.Area Handbook for Bulgaria|Eugene K. Keefe, Violeta D. Baluyut, William Giloane, Anne K. Long, James M. Moore, and Neda A. Walpole
It had narrow twisting lanes, some with a ditch down the middle for water runoff.Our Legal Heritage, 5th Ed.|S. A. Reilly
Another part may penetrate a little distance into the zone of weathering and then join the runoff.The Economic Aspect of Geology|C. K. Leith
British Dictionary definitions for runoff
- to steal; purloin
- to elope with
- an extra race to decide the winner after a tie
- a contest or election held after a previous one has failed to produce a clear victory for any one person
Idioms and Phrases with runoff
Escape; see run away, def. 2.
Flow off, drain, as in By noon all the water had run off the driveway. [Early 1700s]
Print, duplicate, or copy, as in We ran off 200 copies of the budget. [Late 1800s]
Decide a contest or competition, as in The last two events will be run off on Tuesday. [Late 1800s]
Also, run someone out. Force or drive someone away, as in The security guard ran off the trespassers, or They ran him out of town. [Early 1700s]
Produce or perform quickly and easily, as in After years of practice, he could run off a sermon in a couple of hours. [Late 1600s]