sanctuary

noun
sanc·​tu·​ary | \ ˈsaŋ(k)-chə-ˌwer-ē How to pronounce sanctuary (audio) \
plural sanctuaries

Definition of sanctuary

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a consecrated place: such as
a : the ancient Hebrew temple at Jerusalem or its holy of holies
b(1) : the most sacred part of a religious building (such as the part of a Christian church in which the altar is placed)
(2) : the room in which general worship services are held
(3) : a place (such as a church or a temple) for worship
2a(1) : a place of refuge and protection
(2) : a refuge for wildlife where predators are controlled and hunting is illegal
b : the immunity from law attached to a sanctuary

sanctuary

adjective

Definition of sanctuary (Entry 2 of 2)

US
: relating to or being a locality that provides limited cooperation to federal officials in the enforcement of immigration laws or policies a sanctuary jurisdiction sanctuary policies … the executive order … designed to crack down on so-called "sanctuary cities," municipalities that do not comply with Immigration and Customs Enforcement … requests for assistance with identifying and deporting undocumented immigrants.— Euan McKirdy

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Synonyms for sanctuary

Synonyms: Noun

sanctum, shrine

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Did You Know?

Historically, churches have been places where fugitives could seek at least temporary protection from the law. In Anglo-Saxon England, churches and churchyards generally provided 40 days of immunity, and neither the sheriffs nor the army would enter to seize the outlaw. But gradually the right of sanctuary was eroded. In 1486 sanctuary for the crime of treason was disallowed, and sanctuary for most other crimes was severely restricted by Henry VIII and later abolished. In the 1980s many U.S. churches provided sanctuary to political refugees from Central America, and the U.S. government mostly chose not to interfere. Today, wildlife sanctuaries provide protection for the species within its boundaries, and farm-animal sanctuaries now rescue livestock from abuse and starvation.

Examples of sanctuary in a Sentence

Noun

The house was a sanctuary for runaway teens. The refugees found sanctuary when they crossed the border. The sanctuary contains the altar of sacrifice.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

One location in particular is painted in loving, lush detail — a spacious martial arts sanctuary in the middle of a sprawling garden. Danelle Landis, The Seattle Times, "Ketchikan author discusses new fantasy novel," 30 Mar. 2019 Set in the dystopian future of 2027 where women are now infertile, Theo (Owen) meets a pregnant woman and is forced to try to safely transport her to sanctuary. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Who Is Roma Director Alfonso Cuarón? You've Definitely Seen His Incredible Movies," 23 Feb. 2019 There’s no pool or music venue, but that’s precisely the point, as Maison De La Luz is designed to be a sanctuary. Cnt Editors, Condé Nast Traveler, "The Next Great Food Scene, Beach Town, and More: The 2019 Trends We're Calling Now," 18 Dec. 2018 The next year-and-a-half was spent creating a home that was at once peaceful and energizing, and functioned as both sanctuary and chic gathering space. Shoko Wanger, House Beautiful, "The Bold Patterns in This House Are Kaleidoscopic In the Best Way," 29 Mar. 2019 But there’s a spot overlooking the Arno that’s a sanctuary from the frenzy, at least for the select few who are granted access. Erik Maza, Town & Country, "Exclusive: Tour Florence's Rarely Seen Palazzo Spini Feroni," 27 Feb. 2019 The raging downpour in June 2010 flooded the sanctuary, rendering the church uninhabitable. Kristin E. Holmes, Philly.com, "As Philly neighborhoods gentrify, black churches lose their base and leave," 6 July 2018 Thousands of pounds of wood and plaster fell into its sanctuary. Fox News, "Ceiling collapses at church hours before group was to meet," 26 May 2018 Both of these people come out of Joel Osteen’s Lakewood mega-church, the one that initially declined to allow the victims of Hurricane Harvey to befoul its sanctuary. Charles P. Pierce, Esquire, "The Best People, Church Grifter Edition," 19 Mar. 2018

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

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First Known Use of sanctuary

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adjective

1985, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for sanctuary

Noun

Middle English seintuarie, sanctuarie, from Anglo-French, from Late Latin sanctuarium, from Latin sanctus

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Statistics for sanctuary

Last Updated

16 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for sanctuary

The first known use of sanctuary was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for sanctuary

sanctuary

noun

English Language Learners Definition of sanctuary

: a place where someone or something is protected or given shelter
: the protection that is provided by a safe place
US : the room inside a church, synagogue, etc., where religious services are held

sanctuary

noun
sanc·​tu·​ary | \ ˈsaŋk-chə-ˌwer-ē How to pronounce sanctuary (audio) \
plural sanctuaries

Kids Definition of sanctuary

1 : a holy or sacred place
2 : a building or room for religious worship
3 : a place that provides safety or protection a wildlife sanctuary
4 : the protection from danger or a difficult situation that is provided by a safe place

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Comments on sanctuary

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