Either borrowed from Middle French abscondre or directly from Latin abscondō (hide); formed from abs, ab (away) + condō (put together, store), from con- (together) + *dʰeh₁- (to put, place, set).[1]

  • Cognate with sconce (a type of light fixture).





abscond (third-person singular simple present absconds, present participle absconding, simple past and past participle absconded)

  1. (intransitive) To flee, often secretly; to steal away. [From mid 16th century.]
    Synonyms: flee, run away, steal away
    The thieves absconded with our property.
    • 1848, Thomas Babington Macaulay, chapter 13, in The History of England:
      [] that very homesickness which, in regular armies, drives so many recruits to abscond at the risk of stripes and of death.
    • 1911, Ambrose Bierce, “abscond”, in The Devil’s Dictionary, New York, N.Y., Washington, D.C.: The Neale Publishing Company, →OCLC, page 15:
      Spring beckons! All things to the call respond; / The trees are leaving and cashiers abscond.
    • 1950 January, David L. Smith, “A Runaway at Beattock”, in Railway Magazine, page 55:
      The driver had absconded, but both railway and county police were searching for him. Mitchell was arrested in Carlisle on June 9, 1863.
    1. (law) To hide, conceal, or absent oneself clandestinely, with the intent to avoid legal process
      • 1942, Julius J. Epstein, Philip G. Epstein, Howard Koch, Casablanca, spoken by Captain Renault (Claude Rains):
        I've often speculated why you don't return to America. Did you abscond with the church funds? Run off with a senator's wife? I like to think you killed a man. It's the Romantic in me.
      • 1969, John Niven, Years of Turmoil: Civil War and Reconstruction, page 229:
        Andy did break his bargain, lurked in the neighborhood a few days, and then, being pursued by the sheriff, absconded to parts unknown.
      • 1995, Amiya K. Samanta, Terrorism in Bengal: Origin, growth and activities of the organizations like [] , page 748:
        A printed leaflet of the Anushilan was dropped here, and at another place a manuscript of swadeshi songs, which has been proved to belong to Lal Mohan De, another member of the Samiti, who lived in Pulin's akhara and is now absconding.
      • 1998, N. Lokendra, The Unquiet Valley: Society, Economy, and Politics of Manipur (1891-1050), page 253:
        Moirangthem Kalachand Singh, City Inspector, Imphal P.W. 14 searched the house of one Chaoba Singh in village Khagempali in the hope of arresting Boro Singh and Mohendra Singh accused, who were absconding in []
      • 2006, Richard Rojcewicz, The Gods And Technology: A Reading Of Heidegger, →ISBN:
        Modern technology accompanies the absconding of the original attitude.
      • 2009, Sonia Brill, Relationships Without Anger, →ISBN:
        You cannot abscond from the responsibility both you and your partner owe to this event, and that includes dealing with anger issues and any other emotional issues that come with it.
    2. (intransitive, of bee colonies) To abandon a hive.
      • 2003, Randy Carl Lynn, Raising Healthy Honey Bees, Christian Veterinary Mission, page 10:
        [European honey bees] raise large colonies, hoard large quantities of honey, are more gentle than other species and almost never abscond.
  2. (intransitive) To hide, to be in hiding or concealment.
    • 1691-1735, John Ray, The Wisdom of God Manifested in the Works of the Creation[1]:
      the Marmotto, [] which absconds all Winter doth [] live upon its own Fat.
  3. (transitive, uncommon) To evade, to hide or flee from.
    The captain absconded his responsibility.
    • 2006, Aldo E. Chircop, Olof Lindén, Places of Refuge for Ships, →ISBN:
      If the distress situation is solved successfully, the anonymous shipowner will reap the commercial benefit, if the situation ends in disaster, the shipowner will hide behind an anonymous post box in a foreign country and will abscond responsibility.
    • 2008, Somar, The Mystical Harvest[2], page 431:
      The driver snatched a packet of cigarettes out of the glove compartment and absconded the driver's seat without a word
    • 2007, Vendela Vida, Girls on the Verge: Debutante Dips, Drive-bys, and Other Initiations[3], page 29:
      Those who evidently did not get invited back to their top choices have already absconded the scene, tripping in their high heels as they ran.
    • 2011, James Morton, Susanna Lobez, Gangland Melbourne[4], page 47:
      In 1939 she absconded her bail in Melbourne and went to New Zealand, where she also absconded on a charge of stealing diamonds.
  4. (obsolete, transitive) To conceal; to take away. [First attested in the late 16th century.]
    Synonym: conceal
    • 1759, William Porterfield, edited by G. Hamilton and John Balfour, treatise on the eye, the manner and phaenomena of vision, volume 2:
      for having applied to the Side of the Head any thin black Body, such as the Brim of a Hat, so as it may abscond the Objects that are upon that Side
    • 1684, John Esquemeling, Henry Powell, The Buccaneers of America[5], published 2010, page 161:
      They examined every prisoner by himself (who were in all about two hundred and fifty persons) where they had absconded the rest of their goods

Derived terms





  1. ^ Elliott K. Dobbie, C. William Dunmore, Robert K. Barnhart, et al. (editors), Chambers Dictionary of Etymology (Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd, 2004 [1998], →ISBN), page 4