Definition of refugee in English:



  • A person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster.

    ‘tens of thousands of refugees fled their homes’
    as modifier ‘a refugee camp’
    • ‘We are always being told about how many asylum seekers and refugees are coming to this country.’
    • ‘Immigrants and refugees are not likely to be people who have lived in affluent suburbs.’
    • ‘As we got closer, we realised that it was a bus stand that had been turned into a refugee camp.’
    • ‘The government could have chosen to challenge the persistent lies about refugees.’
    • ‘I have been really shocked by what the Labour government has done to refugees in Britain.’
    • ‘Labour's concession to those who try to scapegoat refugees and migrants is shameful.’
    • ‘Five million Palestinians are refugees out of a total population of eight million.’
    • ‘We hear next to nothing of the refugee camps, the economic and social embargoes and the massacres.’
    • ‘Most of the major unions have now passed policies supporting the rights of refugees.’
    • ‘The government wants to dump refugees into camps in isolated areas around Britain.’
    • ‘They could then face deportation even though they have been recognised as refugees.’
    • ‘The foreign minister said Iran already uses a lot of money to support Afghan refugees who have fled to Iran.’
    • ‘The experience of refugees in British society has given rise to a number of plays in recent years.’
    • ‘The current scare over migrants and refugees is just as racist and irrational.’
    • ‘As a refugee, he can be deported only if he is a danger to national security or to the community.’
    • ‘They want to present a picture of refugees getting much better services than other people.’
    • ‘Many people are leaving the refugee camps for fear of disease, camping out in the ruins of their homes.’
    • ‘This man was a Russian refugee whose family was used as forced labor by the Nazis.’
    • ‘Every one of the refugees had a harrowing story of why they had been driven to flee the homes they loved.’
    • ‘Amnesty International has called on countries to stop sending refugees back there.’
    displaced person, dp, escapee, fugitive, asylum seeker, runaway, exile, émigré, stateless person, outcast, returnee
    View synonyms


Late 17th century: from French réfugié ‘gone in search of refuge’, past participle of ( se) réfugier, from refuge (see refuge).