Definition of abscond in English:



  • 1 Leave hurriedly and secretly, typically to escape from custody or avoid arrest:

    ‘the barman absconded with a week's takings’
    ‘176 detainees absconded’
    • ‘Such a trial can only be contemplated if a defendant absconds; and, as that is so rare an occurrence, there is no public interest in permitting such a trial.’
    • ‘He refused to accept medication and absconded, being re-admitted in November of that year, again with self neglect, hallucinations and threatening behaviour.’
    • ‘Some of the accused, who had absconded after the murder, have not been arrested even after a month.’
    • ‘Although some are believed to have escaped during the process of arrest, an unknown number absconded during transfers between prisons, police stations and courts.’
    • ‘The Master of the Rolls exemplified cases when an employee leaves and gets another job, or absconds with the money from the till or goes off indefinitely without a word to his employer.’
    • ‘In May he was arrested in Luton for attempting to steal a car, but absconded from the magistrates' court while under secure supervision from the local authority.’
    • ‘The network of centres house those applicants who are reaching the end of their legal battles to stay in the UK, yet are identified as the most likely to abscond in order to avoid being deported.’
    • ‘In a fuller statement given on 23 March 1985, Davis said that he had absconded from a local authority home in Newcastle.’
    • ‘In Britain around 2/3 of failed asylum seekers abscond and disappear into the ‘black’ economy.’
    • ‘What will happen if these fellows escape or abscond tomorrow?’
    • ‘She is enjoying significant unescorted ground leave and has not endeavoured to abscond.’
    • ‘Later in June 1976 C absconded from Gwynfa, with her room-mate, for several hours and upon her return she was sharply rebuked by a Woman Police Constable.’
    • ‘One understands the concern that the public authorities have about the public reaction if a prisoner in those circumstances were to become violent or if a violent prisoner were to abscond.’
    • ‘I will not abscond in order to avoid extradition to Mexico.’
    • ‘All the children were aged between 11 and 16 years and highly unlikely to abscond or resist arrest.’
    • ‘These may be needed in order to, for example, examine the person applying for admission, or to make sure that they do not abscond when a decision to deport has been taken.’
    • ‘He was arrested for absconding and taken to Westlea police station where he was charged with escape.’
    • ‘A re-trial had been ordered and a trial date fixed before the defendant absconded.’
    • ‘The appellant absconded shortly before the conclusion of his trial, and was re-arrested only in March 2000.’
    • ‘If a client absconds, and the solicitor has clear instructions as to how to proceed, then it could be argued that he has either express or implied authority to continue to represent him.’
    run away, escape, bolt, clear out, flee, make off, take flight, take off, fly, decamp
    make a break for it, take to one's heels, make a quick getaway, beat a hasty retreat, show a clean pair of heels, run for it, make a run for it
    disappear, vanish, slip away, steal away, sneak away
    do a bunk, do a moonlight flit, cut and run, skedaddle, skip, do a runner, head for the hills, do a disappearing act, do a vanishing act, fly the coop, take french leave, scarper, vamoose
    take a powder, go on the lam
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 (of a person on bail) fail to surrender oneself for custody at the appointed time:
      ‘charges of absconding while on bail’
      • ‘We see no necessity for a defendant who is bailed to be expressly warned that, if he absconds, he may be tried in his absence, for that has been the English common law for over a century.’
      • ‘He said that a person with outstanding warrants is more likely to abscond from bail, wasting more police and court time.’
      • ‘He was given two months' jail for the first breach of the ASBO, two months for the second breach, and two weeks for absconding from bail, all to run consecutively.’
      • ‘The spokesman said: ‘Since his conviction for both offences he absconded from bail and his current whereabouts are sought by the police.’’
      • ‘Judge Simon Fawcus sentenced him to 18 years for one charge of conspiracy to rob and nine months, to run concurrently, for absconding from bail.’
    2. 1.2 (of a colony of honeybees, especially Africanized ones) entirely abandon a hive or nest.
      • ‘In these circumstances the majority of the colony absconded, leaving a few hundred freshly emerged workers behind.’
      • ‘Also, Africanized bees abscond, leaving no queen, workers, or resources.’
      • ‘While Africanized honeybees do make honey and pollinate plants, two traits make them undesirable for beekeepers: colonies regularly abscond from hives, and they are often too defensive to be easily tended.’


Mid 16th century (in the sense ‘hide, conceal oneself’): from Latin abscondere hide, from ab- away, from + condere stow.