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

Erin’s Farm, a not-for-profit animal sanctuary and educational facility, crossed the first hurdle Thursday in its effort to continue its Hobart operation. Karen Caffarini, Post-Tribune, "Panel OK with sanctuary business plan in Hobart; awaits City Council approval," 7 June 2019 Before Trump’s tweets on Friday, both the Department of Homeland Security and a White House official had released nearly identical statements saying the sanctuary-cities plan had been floated but then flatly rejected. Colleen Long, The Seattle Times, "Trump ‘strongly looking’ at releasing migrants in Dem cities," 13 Apr. 2019 The effort from Sessions to impose the conditions had been an attempt to punish sanctuary cities after afederal judge in California had blocked the administration from pursuing broader funding threats. Tal Kopan, CNN, "Judge slaps Sessions, feds over 'sanctuary cities'," 6 June 2018 While Trump has tried to restrict immigration, Garcetti touts his own family's mix of Jewish, Mexican and Italian lineage, and promotes Los Angeles as a sanctuary city. Bloomberg News, NOLA.com, "No mayor has ever made the direct jump to president. Could it happen in 2020?," 30 Apr. 2018 The sanctuary has distinct populations separated from each other but all living in the same ecological environment. Cathleen O'grady, Ars Technica, "Chimps have different cultural norms about friendliness, too," 9 Nov. 2018 The majority of Romaniote Jews were murdered in the Shoah, and many who remain are now too fragile to mount the stone steps leading to the sanctuary. Leslie Camhi, ELLE Decor, "Inside the World's Most Beautiful Synagogues," 5 Nov. 2018 The sanctuary consists of 1,700 acres of open water, tidal freshwater marshes, forested wetlands, upland and riparian forest, creeks, meadows, pine and sand barrens, and fields along the Patuxent River. Janene Holzberg, baltimoresun.com, "Jug Bay set to unveil trails, Nature Discovery Place at new Waysons Corner preserve," 4 July 2018 Reid Ashe covered the soldier-sanctuary incident as a reporter for MIT’s student newspaper, The Tech. James Sullivan, BostonGlobe.com, "Whatever happened to those radical boomer activists from the ’60s and ’70s?," 6 June 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

11 Jun 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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