Definition of truant in English:



  • A pupil who stays away from school without leave or explanation.

    • ‘Some education officers were also encouraging parents of truants to deregister their children from school, so they could meet new government targets for increasing school attendance.’
    • ‘Learning mentors will work with primary schoolchildren, who are deemed at risk of becoming truants.’
    • ‘A police crackdown on school truants in the north-west area seems to be making progress.’
    • ‘He is also proposing placing police in and around schools to round up truants.’
    • ‘School truants are to be targeted this month as part of a joint operation by the council and police.’
    • ‘But she wonders if ministers quite understand the real world when she hears ideas such as head teachers' issuing fixed penalty notice fines to truants ' parents.’
    • ‘In secondary schools, 3,345 of 20,966 pupils skipped classes - with truants missing an average of 13 half-days.’
    • ‘We know that 4,048 students were reported as long-term truants last year.’
    • ‘If they were encouraging genuine truants back to school then I would be entirely supportive.’
    • ‘In most cases, children who are truants end up in the criminal courts and move on to become repeat offenders, unless something is done to look at why they do not want to go to school.’
    • ‘Plans to jail the parents of persistent truants have been dismissed as unworkable - by the pupils themselves.’
    • ‘But the local education authority warned that pupils who attended the demonstration would be treated as truants.’
    • ‘Some students have been warned that they will be treated as truants.’
    • ‘Maybe the authorities should put some structures in place, like perhaps a truant officer to accost these truants.’
    • ‘The Department for Education and Skills has already warned that any pupil missing school to attend a demonstration would be treated as truants and headteachers have warned that they could face expulsion.’
    • ‘Why not bring this regime back for the hard-core truants, if they won't attend school during school time make them attend in their own time.’
    • ‘Students are considered habitual truants if they have 10 or more unexcused absences in a school year.’
    • ‘Numbers of truants are so high education social workers do not have the resources to spend a lot of time with all the families involved.’
    • ‘Known truants were staying in school and had been deterred from leaving school grounds.’
    • ‘The school collaborates with a charity to inspire and re-engage underachieving pupils and chronic truants.’
    absentee, non-attender
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  • 1(of a pupil) being a truant.

    ‘truant children’
    • ‘During that time, his 14-year-old brother became truant from school and began using narcotics.’
    • ‘Educational Advocates are ex-offenders who work to bring chronically truant youth back to school.’
    • ‘Children who are truant (or ‘playing hooky’) are not scared to go to school the way children with school refusal are.’
    • ‘However, students who do not attend school may be similar to alternative school students, students who are often chronically absent or truant.’
    • ‘Under the scheme, truant pupils are identified and the welfare service tries to help them.’
    • ‘‘I've got out,’ I told him in the tone of voice parents reserve for especially truant children.’
    • ‘My friend got a call from the dean of students: Their son was truant and failing out of school.’
    • ‘Many of the truant students claim they were stressed out by exams or had problems getting along with classmates.’
    • ‘After determining that she would not injure anyone, she had to attend school and not be truant.’
    • ‘Carlos, a painfully shy 15 year old, is chronically truant.’
    • ‘Having been a truant pupil himself, Mark was keen to ensure that they did not follow in his footsteps, although they were rarely excused from helping him with his own projects.’
    • ‘A mother brings her truant son to school to be flogged for neglecting his studies in favour of gambling.’
    • ‘Police officers have begun an operation to target truant schoolchildren in the town.’
    • ‘Had authorities followed up, critics said, they might have reached - or at least noticed - the truant students and stopped their respective attacks.’
    • ‘Perceval appointed him secretary to the Admiralty in 1809, a well-paid post which he held for 22 years, never quitting his office ‘without a kind of uneasiness like a truant boy’.’
    • ‘Children with school refusal differ in important ways from children who are truant, although the behaviors are not mutually exclusive.’
    • ‘School was more often burdensome for girls than it was for boys, although boys were slightly more truant.’
    • ‘He sounded like the school headmaster quietly but firmly dressing down a truant pupil.’
    • ‘That is exactly why the Minister of Education has been putting in place programmes to ensure those young people are not truant, are not suspended; they are at school where they belong.’
    • ‘Statistical adjustments were also made based on the responses of students who indicated skipping classes in the past 30 days and being truant since school began in September.’
    1. 1.1 Wandering; straying.
      ‘her truant husband’
      • ‘Even as a fierce blizzard looms on the horizon, she finds herself with more than just a truant husband on her hands.’
      • ‘There the boy is captured by Jack's colleagues, who have been commanded by the Lord to kill their truant captain.’
      • ‘Two grown daughters in the family join the truant male whenever the old man launches into story.’
      • ‘Here are the other truant titans, along with their stated reasons for missing the premier IFBB contest.’
      • ‘The health minister instead should take recourse to the existing laws and try and effectively bring back the health department on rails and make the truant doctors more responsive.’


[no object]
  • ‘if my daughter had been truanting from school I would have been informed’
    another way of saying play truant below
    • ‘Ideas put forward yesterday for future use of new technology included allowing parents to check online whether their children are truanting, increasing online tax payments and more use of computers in the health service.’
    • ‘We will not be coming in with a hard approach, but want to work with parents to stop truanting.’
    • ‘Boys who had been truanting and priding themselves on being cheeky and ‘hard ‘turned out to be brilliant at woodwork.’
    • ‘Youngsters truanted for all sorts of reasons including bullying, domestic violence, family illness and basic issues like failing to do homework, she said.’
    • ‘We will take action against those who are persistently truanting or who are late for school.’
    • ‘Parents who repeatedly fail to keep their children in school will be hauled back to the classroom and given lessons on bringing up youngsters, under a radical plan to stop truanting.’
    • ‘She soon began truanting and going missing for increasingly long periods of time.’
    • ‘In the last academic year 696, 328 pupils truanted or were absent without permission, on average for 15 half days.’
    • ‘For a few fleeting seconds, she considered truanting, but common sense triumphed over her emotions.’
    • ‘A young person can end up facing a children's panel - or ‘hearing’ - for criminal activity, truanting, running away from home or equally because they are at risk from physical abuse or neglect.’
    • ‘What is clear is that students who are doing well at school and are engaged and focused do not truant.’
    • ‘Many of these children aren't at school - either because they have been excluded or are truanting.’
    • ‘In Scotland, statistics have shown that around 7% of young people truanted frequently, 17% occasionally, and 28% rarely.’
    • ‘Unfortunately, however, a surprisingly large number of parents are not only already aware that their children are truanting, they actively condone it.’
    • ‘During this summer's World Cup, big screen televisions were set up in the city's classrooms in an attempt to stop children truanting to watch football matches.’
    • ‘In North Yorkshire, the figures were a little better with 17 children found truanting, eight of whom were with an adult.’
    • ‘Far from truanting because they are stupid, it turns out many truant because they are clever.’
    • ‘The majority of these parents knew of the absence but about 20 pupils were found to be truanting.’
    • ‘He said: ‘We often catch children that are quite vulnerable, they often truant because they have a problem at home and by catching them we can deal with that.’’
    • ‘He said that his dad had kicked him out because he'd been truanting and hanging around with a gang of boys, getting into trouble.’
    stay away from school, not go to school, be absent, truant
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  • play truant

    • (of a pupil) stay away from school without leave or explanation.

      ‘he often played truant and he usually wrote his own absence notes’
      • ‘You now have a situation where children are coming back to school but are frightened and upset and the children who really should be in school are still playing truant.’
      • ‘Ultimately, it is up to parents and teachers to ensure children do not play truant.’
      • ‘This showed that there were 1.1 million pupils who had played truant in the course of the last school year - up from 0.96 million five years before.’
      • ‘When I first started there were a number of pupils outside of lessons playing truant.’
      • ‘He thought the School Board had found out he'd played truant.’
      • ‘Scores of school children played truant to attend the protest despite warnings from head teachers that they would face suspension.’
      • ‘Some 20 pupils were found playing truant on their own.’
      • ‘But only pupils who meet academic targets and do not play truant will get tickets.’
      • ‘She often plays truant and stays home, where she is happiest working with Pa in his machine shop in the yard.’
      • ‘A fifth of children said they felt unsafe in their communities and nearly 40 per cent of Year 11 pupils admitted playing truant.’
      stay away from school, not go to school, be absent, truant
      View synonyms


Middle English (denoting a person begging through choice rather than necessity): from Old French, probably ultimately of Celtic origin; compare with Welsh truan, Scottish Gaelic truaghan ‘wretched’.