Definition of abscond in English:



  • 1 Leave hurriedly and secretly, typically to avoid detection of or arrest for an unlawful action such as theft.

    ‘she absconded with the remaining thousand dollars’
    • ‘The economic offences wing of the Mumbai police is continuing its search for the six absconding directors of Home Trade.’
    • ‘She absconded with the jewellery and the question was whether the loss was covered by the insurance policy or fell within its exclusion clause.’
    • ‘The situation was compounded when some owners emigrated or absconded, some sold to slumlords, and others abandoned their buildings, leaving squatters to take over.’
    • ‘The ‘wrong way’ meant avoiding paying taxes and cooking the company books before absconding to Brazil and Africa.’
    • ‘I cannot abandon my family nor abscond from my newspaper just like that,’ he said.’
    • ‘The other one, seemingly in possession of a larger vocabulary, proceeded to explain to my mother, that their job was to make sure we were not absconding with any national treasures.’
    • ‘With gossip raging more quickly than a bush fire, Leonie fled for South Africa while her lover absconded to Peru.’
    • ‘The husband then absconded with the proceeds of sale, and on her return from hospital the wife was excluded from the house by the purchaser, so that she was not physically present on the property when he was registered as proprietor.’
    • ‘It attracted many members but few funds, and the secretary absconded with what there were.’
    • ‘Though men brewed the arrack, police arrest women as the men abscond the moment police arrive on the scene.’
    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 someone on bail) fail to surrender oneself for custody at the appointed time.
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He said that a person with outstanding warrants is more likely to abscond from bail, wasting more police and court time.’
      • ‘The spokesman said: ‘Since his conviction for both offences he absconded from bail and his current whereabouts are sought by the police.’’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
    2. 1.2(of a person kept in detention or under supervision) escape.
      ‘176 detainees absconded’
      • ‘Although some are believed to have escaped during the process of arrest, an unknown number absconded during transfers between prisons, police stations and courts.’
      • ‘Some of the accused, who had absconded after the murder, have not been arrested even after a month.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘In a fuller statement given on 23 March 1985, Davis said that he had absconded from a local authority home in Newcastle.’
      • ‘He was arrested for absconding and taken to Westlea police station where he was charged with escape.’
      • ‘He refused to accept medication and absconded, being re-admitted in November of that year, again with self neglect, hallucinations and threatening behaviour.’
      • ‘I will not abscond in order to avoid extradition to Mexico.’
      • ‘A re-trial had been ordered and a trial date fixed before the defendant absconded.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘All the children were aged between 11 and 16 years and highly unlikely to abscond or resist arrest.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘She is enjoying significant unescorted ground leave and has not endeavoured to abscond.’
      • ‘The appellant absconded shortly before the conclusion of his trial, and was re-arrested only in March 2000.’
      • ‘What will happen if these fellows escape or abscond tomorrow?’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘In Britain around 2/3 of failed asylum seekers abscond and disappear into the ‘black’ economy.’
    3. 1.3(of a colony of honeybees, especially Africanized ones) entirely abandon a hive or nest.
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘In these circumstances the majority of the colony absconded, leaving a few hundred freshly emerged workers behind.’


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