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So as far as I understand 'to flee' is the verb, derivative noun from it is 'a flight' (as the process of running away), but what are the people who flee called? (And I don't mean cowards and other words of this kind.)

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They’re flighty flying fleers. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Mar 26 '14 at 18:11
It seems to me that fly can also mean flee, so it may make sense to call them flyers. – milestyle Mar 26 '14 at 18:35
@milestyle, sure, but nobody would really understand that they're fleeing - it would be assumed they were flying, right? – Kristina Lopez Mar 26 '14 at 18:36
As a curiosity: the German word is Flüchtling, which in English would be *flightling – Walter Tross Mar 27 '14 at 11:11
@JanusBahsJacquet Surely that would be fleet ones, for those who are not do not escape. :) “The fleet have fled.” – tchrist Mar 28 '14 at 0:29
up vote 30 down vote accepted

Despite how weird or unglamorous, the word you are looking for is actually fleer. My dead-tree (thus not easily linkable) American Heritage Dictionary specifically lists it as a noun form at the end of its entry for flee.

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Plus a note: I believe you pronounce this as "flee-er", it does not rhyme with "rear". – Izkata Mar 27 '14 at 19:34
My dead-tree Webster's New Collegiate agrees. Fleer also means "To laugh or grimace coarsely or scornfully; sneer; A word or look of derision or mockery." Fleers aren't in a position to fleer until they have safely fled. – ab2 Aug 7 '15 at 21:48

Often 'refugee' may be a good noun to use when describing people who are fleeing.

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How about fugitive? Here is how Encyclopédie Universelle defines that term:

a person who is fleeing, from prosecution, intolerable circumstances, etc.; a runaway: a fugitive from justice; a fugitive from a dictatorial regime.

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"Fugitive" carries strong connotations of criminality. – David Richerby Mar 26 '14 at 20:41

Perhaps you could use escapee. Most nouns that mean to flee will carry strong connotations of something or another; it's just the nature of the game.

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What about runner? The term is frequently used in popular media to identify one that flees. The website subzin lists at least 30 instances of the phrase “We have a runner.”

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Flee is synonymous with hasten, also a verb. It is derived from the Old French word 'haste' a noun which means: "Energetic speed in motion or action, as from eagerness, fear, urgency of circumstances, etc." From that a person who hastens(flees) is a (hastener). Source: The New Century Dictionary of the English Language, D.Appleton-Century Co., New York-London, 1944, p.717

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It may be, in yon smoke conceal'd,

Your comrades chase e'en now the fliers,

And, but for you, possess the field.

(A H Clough, 'Say not the struggle naught availeth')

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protected by tchrist Aug 9 '15 at 14:00

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