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

Waxman writes of bookstore as sanctuary with the wisdom and reverence of one who had sought her own refuge in such a palace a time or two herself. Maureen Lee Lenker, EW.com, "Hot Stuff: July romances offer 'knotty' self-discovery," 30 July 2019 Oysters are then transported to a sanctuary reef in the Patapsco River, a site more conducive for growth. Christine Condon, baltimoresun.com, "Baltimore partnership has grown 1 million oysters in Inner Harbor since 2014," 23 July 2019 An immigrant living in the country illegally was reported by Daly City police to ICE, even though the state’s sanctuary law largely prohibits police from cooperating with ICE unless a serious crime has been committed. Los Angeles Times, "Remembering Jonathan Gold a year after his death," 18 July 2019 But the animal advocates said their offers to take injured pigs to rescue shelters or sanctuaries were turned down. Billy Kobin, The Courier-Journal, "Animal welfare groups: We were 'stonewalled' in trying to help pigs in Louisville crash," 18 July 2019 The sanctuary will host 11 weekend Masses in four languages starting Saturday, according to Father Christopher Smith, rector and episcopal vicar of Christ Cathedral. Daily Pilot, "Crystal Cathedral is reborn as Christ Cathedral, the center of O.C. Catholicism," 17 July 2019 The new rule insists that an individual must have sought asylum in that third country, and been rejected, before moving on to try for sanctuary in America. A.r., The Economist, "America closes the doors to asylum-seekers from the South," 16 July 2019 Wildlife sanctuaries and tiger reserves must be sacrosanct. Mayank Aggarwal, Quartz India, "Tigers in a southern reserve are victims of India’s aggressive push towards nuclear energy," 15 July 2019 Worldwide, women are most likely to be murdered by a male partner and may be unsafe in their own homes, making shelters a vital sanctuary. Luis Gómez Romero, The Conversation, "Mexican president López Obrador has a woman problem," 10 July 2019

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

6 Aug 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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