asylum

noun

asy·​lum ə-ˈsī-ləm How to pronounce asylum (audio)
1
: an inviolable place of refuge and protection giving shelter to criminals and debtors : sanctuary
2
: a place of retreat and security : shelter
3
a
: the protection or security afforded by an asylum : refuge
b
: protection from arrest and extradition given especially to political refugees by a nation or by an embassy or other agency enjoying freedom from what is required by law for most people
4
somewhat old-fashioned : an institution providing care and protection to needy individuals (such as the infirm or destitute) and especially the mentally ill

Examples of asylum in a Sentence

She asked for political asylum. She was granted asylum after it was made clear that she would be killed if she returned to her native country.
Recent Examples on the Web In a four-part arc written by Alan Grant and drawn by Norm Breyfogle, Jeremiah Arkham, the nephew of the asylum’s founder Amadeus Arkham, has taken over. Josh Weiss, Forbes, 14 Feb. 2024 Closing the border immediately & processing all asylum claims as quickly as possible. Charlotte Observer, 13 Feb. 2024 To become eligible for work permits, migrants must apply for asylum, a cumbersome process, and then wait 150 days. Miriam Jordan, New York Times, 12 Feb. 2024 Many migrants are seeking asylum, a humanitarian protection for people fleeing persecution. Washington Post, 11 Feb. 2024 Said migrants should apply for asylum in their home countries and the U.S. should provide additional resources to process them. John Woolfolk, The Mercury News, 11 Feb. 2024 This would have been a welcome change, but the bill created a new process that bypassed the immigration courts and relied on notoriously open-handed asylum officers to make asylum determinations. Nr Editors, National Review, 9 Feb. 2024 Mayor Johnston believes Denver and other cities can spearhead a solution that links the stream of asylum seekers that will not stop with the needs of places that want workers. Shimon Prokupecz, CNN, 31 Jan. 2024 Migrants’ supporters say Israel, a country founded upon the ashes of the Holocaust and built up by Jewish refugees, should welcome those seeking asylum. Etgar Lefkovits, Sun Sentinel, 17 Jan. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'asylum.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Middle English, from Latin, from Greek asylon, neuter of asylos inviolable, from a- + sylon right of seizure

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of asylum was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near asylum

Cite this Entry

“Asylum.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/asylum. Accessed 21 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

asylum

noun
asy·​lum ə-ˈsī-ləm How to pronounce asylum (audio)
1
: a place of safety : shelter
2
: protection given especially to political refugees
3
: an institution for the care of those unable to care for themselves and especially for the insane

Medical Definition

asylum

noun
asy·​lum ə-ˈsī-ləm How to pronounce asylum (audio)
: an institution providing care and protection to needy individuals (such as the infirm or destitute) and especially the mentally ill

Legal Definition

asylum

noun
asy·​lum ə-ˈsī-ləm How to pronounce asylum (audio)
: protection from arrest and extradition given especially to political refugees by a nation or by an embassy or other agency that has diplomatic immunity

More from Merriam-Webster on asylum

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!