A run-in is a confrontation or an argument. Peaceful protests go more smoothly when protestors avoid run-ins with the police.

If you get in a fight with your brother about how he never loads the dishwasher, you can call that a run-in. A more serious kind of run-in might be a shoplifter's run-in with a store security guard or a basketball player's angry run-in with a referee that gets him benched for the rest of the season. Before 1905, run-in meant an instance of actually running somewhere.

Definitions of run-in
  1. noun
    an angry dispute
    synonyms: dustup, quarrel, row, words, wrangle
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    affray, altercation, fracas
    noisy quarrel
    bicker, bickering, fuss, pettifoggery, spat, squabble, tiff
    a quarrel about petty points
    a serious quarrel (especially one that ends a friendship)
    a silly altercation
    type of:
    conflict, difference, difference of opinion, dispute
    a disagreement or argument about something important
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