View synonyms for runoff


[ ruhn-awf, -of ]


  1. something that drains or flows off, as rain that flows off from the land in streams.
  2. a final contest held to determine a victor after earlier contests have eliminated the weaker contestants.
  3. a deciding final contest held after one in which there has been no decisive victor, as between two contestants who have tied for first place.
  4. Also called rundown. a continual or prolonged reduction, especially in quantity or supply:

    a runoff in bank deposits; a sharp runoff in business inventories.

  5. Stock Exchange. the final prices appearing on the ticker after the closing bell is rung for the trading day.

Discover More

Word History and Origins

Origin of runoff1

1850–55, Americanism; noun use of verb phrase run off; runoff ( def 2, 3 ) -off
Discover More

Example Sentences

After winning reelection in a runoff, he was kicked off the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.

Streams, rivers, and lakes are especially vulnerable to water runoff that contains de-icing salts.

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.

He traveled twice to the state during the runoff campaign for speeches that largely focused on his own grievances against state Republican leaders.

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.”

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.

Gradual thawing would allow normal runoff without much penetration.

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.

Scrub on the remainder, however, serves to stabilize the soil of the forest lands against erosion and to slow the runoff of water.

It had narrow twisting lanes, some with a ditch down the middle for water runoff.

Another part may penetrate a little distance into the zone of weathering and then join the runoff.


Related Words

Discover More

More About 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.

Did you know ... ?

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.



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.




Runnymederun off at the mouth