A runagate is a person who has fled or deserted from a particular place or organization, often with the intention of escaping punishment, imprisonment, or an undesirable situation. The term “runagate” originated in the late 1500s and was derived from the Middle English word “renegate,” meaning a person who renounces their religion or beliefs.
Runagates can be found throughout history in various contexts. In the context of slavery, runagates were individuals who escaped from slavery and sought freedom. They were often seen as threats to the institution of slavery as their acts of running away challenged the system’s legitimacy and showcased the desire for emancipation and equality. Famous examples of runagates from this era include Harriet Tubman, who made numerous daring escapes and became a prominent leader of the Underground Railroad, aiding the freedom of many enslaved people.
In a broader sense, runagates can also refer to individuals who reject societal norms or expectations and choose to live off the grid or outside the established structures. These individuals may choose to leave their job, family, or social circle in search of personal freedom or a more meaningful existence. Although such decisions may be considered unconventional or even rebellious by some, runagates often strive for independence, self-sufficiency, and a life aligned with their own values and desires. In literature and film, runagates are frequently portrayed as adventurous, free-spirited characters who challenge authority and inspire others to question the status quo.