en·​sconce in-ˈskän(t)s How to pronounce ensconce (audio)
ensconced; ensconcing

transitive verb

: shelter, conceal
ensconced themselves within the protection of three great elmsMark Twain
: establish, settle
ensconced in a new job

Did you know?

You might think of a sconce as a type of candleholder or lamp, but the word can also refer to a defensive fortification, usually one made of earth. Originally, then, a person who was ensconced was enclosed in or concealed by such a structure, out of harm's way. One of the earliest writers to apply the verb ensconce with the general sense of "hide" was William Shakespeare. In The Merry Wives of Windsor, the character Falstaff, hoping to avoid detection when he is surprised during an amorous moment with Mrs. Ford, says "She shall not see me; I will ensconce me behind the arras." (An arras is a tapestry or wall hanging.)

Example Sentences

The sculpture is safely ensconced behind glass. He ensconced himself in front of the television.
Recent Examples on the Web That probably extends to Mike Conley Jr., too, an All-Star a season ago whose arrival in Utah helped ensconce the Jazz as contenders. The Salt Lake Tribune, 15 Dec. 2021 The appearance of an unfamiliar object is a surefire way to pique a cat’s interest, perhaps even enough to try to ensconce themselves in it. Katherine J. Wu, The Atlantic, 12 May 2021 Spa days aren’t complete without a cozy robe to ensconce yourself in, and this one from Riley will do the trick. Courtney Thompson, CNN Underscored, 4 Nov. 2020 With Emmanuel Macron ensconced in the Élysée Palace, the policy of European fiscal union enjoys the passionate support of one of Europe’s two biggest powers for the first time. Peter Rough, National Review, 22 Apr. 2020 Grandpa would ramble about his years as a meteorologist, at which point my younger cousins would slip away and ensconce themselves under the table, tug at someone’s pants, or pluck one of my aunt’s stockings. BostonGlobe.com, 21 Nov. 2019 Scaramucci missed his son’s birth while ensconced at the White House during his 11-day tenure before his epic firing following an expletive-laden New Yorker interview. Washington Post, 11 June 2019 Just as the nineteenth-century flaneur gets intoxicated on a strange mix of empathy and detachment, the lurker sees their historic moment by being above it and very much ensconced in it. Adrian Daub, The New Republic, 13 Apr. 2020 But don't worry -- the mice were safely ensconced in their own comfy little cages with bedding and food. Ashley Strickland, CNN, 24 Mar. 2020 See More

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

Word History


en- + sconce entry 2

First Known Use

1594, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of ensconce was in 1594


Dictionary Entries Near ensconce

Cite this Entry

“Ensconce.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ensconce. Accessed 31 Jan. 2023.

Kids Definition


en·​sconce in-ˈskän(t)s How to pronounce ensconce (audio)
ensconced; ensconcing
: to place or hide securely : conceal
ensconced myself behind a tree
: to establish comfortably : settle snugly
ensconced in a new house

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