asylum

noun
asy·​lum | \ ə-ˈsī-ləm How to pronounce asylum (audio) \

Definition of asylum

1 : an inviolable place of refuge and protection giving shelter to criminals and debtors : sanctuary
2 : a place of retreat and security : shelter
3a : 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

Synonyms for asylum

Synonyms

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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 Fifty more migrants arrived outside Vice President Kamala Harris's residence in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, days after two buses carrying asylum seekers arrived at her Naval Observatory home from Texas earlier this week. Alexandra Hutzler, ABC News, 18 Sep. 2022 Roybal’s vision and service stand in stark contrast to this year’s Hispanic Heritage Month shenanigans, which began with Republican governors coordinating campaigns to ship asylum-seekers up North in a cruel gambit to stoke political division. Ellen Mcgirt, Fortune, 16 Sep. 2022 But advocates for asylum-seekers and Democratic lawmakers have called the states' transportation strategy inhumane, accusing Republican officials of using desperate migrants as political pawns in a policy dispute with the administration. Camilo Montoya-galvez, CBS News, 16 Sep. 2022 Until last year, nearly all asylum seekers came from Central America and arrived with arrangements to stay with a family member or friend in the U.S. Alyssa Lukpat, WSJ, 15 Sep. 2022 At that time, Sweden took more than 150,000 asylum seekers, including many newcomers from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Emily Rauhala, Washington Post, 14 Sep. 2022 Italian identity cards are common among asylum seekers in Europe, including people who have entered the continent by crossing the short stretch of water separating North Africa and Italy. WIRED, 14 Sep. 2022 And more than 150 asylum-seekers arrived in three more buses earlier last week. Shanzeh Ahmad, Chicago Tribune, 14 Sep. 2022 Migrants and asylum seekers from Venezuela and Cuba have accounted for about half of the migrants crossing through the Del Rio sector in recent months for such reasons as seeking jobs safety and reunification with relatives. Nick Miroff, Anchorage Daily News, 3 Sep. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'asylum.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of asylum

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for asylum

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

Learn More About asylum

Time Traveler for asylum

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near asylum

asyllabic

asylum

asym-

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for asylum

Last Updated

21 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Asylum.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/asylum. Accessed 29 Sep. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for asylum

asylum

noun
asy·​lum | \ ə-ˈsī-ləm How to pronounce asylum (audio) \

Kids Definition of asylum

1 : a place of protection and shelter They sought asylum from the storm.
2 : protection given especially to political refugees
3 : a place for the care of the poor or the physically or mentally ill
Hint: Sense 3 is somewhat old-fashioned.

asylum

noun
asy·​lum | \ ə-ˈsī-ləm How to pronounce asylum (audio) \

Medical Definition of asylum

: an institution providing care and protection to needy individuals (such as the infirm or destitute) and especially the mentally ill

asylum

noun
asy·​lum | \ ə-ˈsī-ləm How to pronounce asylum (audio) \

Legal Definition of asylum

: 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

Nglish: Translation of asylum for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of asylum for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about asylum

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

The Great British Vocabulary Quiz

  • union jack speech bubble
  • Named after Sir Robert Peel, what are British police called?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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