- fugitive (n.)
- late 14c., "one who flees, a runaway, a fugitive from justice, an outlaw," from fugitive (adj.). Old French fugitif also was used as a noun meaning "fugitive person," and Latin fugitivus (adj.) commonly also was used as a noun meaning "a runaway, fugitive slave, deserter."
- fugitive (adj.)
- late 14c., "fleeing, having fled, having taken flight," from Old French fugitif, fuitif "absent, missing," from Latin fugitivus "fleeing," past participle adjective from stem of fugere "to flee, fly, take flight, run away; become a fugitive, leave the country, go into exile; pass quickly; vanish, disappear, perish; avoid, shun; escape the notice of, be unknown to," from PIE root *bheug- (1) "to flee" (cognates: Greek pheugein "to flee," Lithuanian bugstu "be frightened," bauginti "frighten someone," baugus "timid, nervous"). Old English had flyma.
Meaning "lasting but a short time, fleeting" is from c.1500. Hence its use in literature for short compositions written for passing occasions or purposes (1766).