Word study: run

Word study: Run

The word RUN can be used in different contexts to mean different things. Here are some of the definitions and examples when the verb is used in different situations:

a) to move swiftly on foot so that both feet leve the ground during each stride: He runs for two kilometres every morning.

b) to take part in a race or contest: Kate ran in the Boston Marathon in 2010.

c) to compete in a race for elected office: Jim ran for mayor two times but did not win.

d) to finish a race or contest in a specific position: Grace ran second in the final race.

e) to be in operation: The engine has been running for one hour until it ran out of gas (see phrasal verbs below).

f) to go back and forth, especially on a regular basis: The ferry runs every hour.

g) to flow, especially in a steady stream: Turn on the faucet and let the water run.

h) to unravel along a line: Her stockings ran and she could not wear them for the concert.

i) to tend to persist or recur: Compassion seems to run in that family (everybody in the family is like that).

Phrasal verbs with RUN:

Phrasalverb Meaning Example
run across  to meet someone you know when you’re not expecting to.  I ran across several old friends when I went back to my hometown.
run after to chase or pursue  She has spent her life running after fame and fortune.
run along  said to children to tell them to go away.  Run along now, children!
run away  to leave a place or person secretly and suddenly.  He ran away from home when he was only twelve.
run down gradually deteriorate (or cause to deteriorate) in quality. The property had been allowed to run down.
run into (someone) meet somebody unexpectedly; (problems) encounter a problem  I ran into my sister at the market yesterday. I’ve run into some problems with the printer.
run off  to leave somewhere or someone suddenly.  My wife has run off with another man.
run on be powered by  Electric cars run on electricity, not gas.
run out  Have none left.  We ran out of milk.
run over  To hit with a vehicle (car, train, truck); Take more time than planned  She’s upset because she ran over a cat while driving home from work. The meeting ran over 20 minutes, so I was late for my next appointment.
run through  Explain quickly; Quickly practice or rehearse a play, performance, song, or presentation.  Let me run through the schedule for the tour.
run up  Spend a lot of money on credit  I ran up a debt of $10,000 on my credit cards.
run around to be very busy doing many things  Sorry I haven’t had the chance to call you this week – I’ve been running around between work, school, and soccer practice.



Idiomatic English

a run for one's money

Idiom Meaning
a run for (one’s) money strong competition
in the long run in the final analysis or outcome
in the short run in the immediate future
on the run in hiding: fugitives on the run
run a temperature/fever to have a higher than normal body temperature
run out of to exhaust the supply of: We ran out of fuel.
run short to become scanty or insufficient in supply: We ran short on fuel oil during the winter.

Other phrases include:

run-down (adj.): tired and not healthy. My doctor said I was looking run-down.

run-down (adj.): (especially of a building or area) in a poor or neglected state after having been prosperous. A run-down Edwardian villa.

run-in (n.): you have a serious argument with someone or you get into trouble with them. I had a run-in with the police yesterday.


Here are some different ways to say RUN.

Dash: to go somewhere quickly.
He dashed out onto the street, narrowly missing a car.

Jog: to run slowly for exercise.
Every day, I go for a jog at 6:00am.

Scamper (away, down, off, etc): to run quickly and with small steps, like a child or a small animal.
I saw a rabbit scamper off into the woods. 

Sprint: to run very fast for a short distance.
She sprinted to catch the bus, but she was too late.


Image credit: Death to Stock