sanc·​tum | \ ˈsaŋ(k)-təm How to pronounce sanctum (audio) \
plural sanctums also sancta\ ˈsaŋ(k)-​tə How to pronounce sancta (audio) \

Definition of sanctum

1 : a sacred place
2 : a place where one is free from intrusion an editor's sanctum the inner sanctums of research

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Synonyms for sanctum


sanctuary, shrine

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Examples of sanctum in a Sentence

Her office was her sanctum. the sanctum of a church

Recent Examples on the Web

World leaders have the music on their playlists and the stars to their inner sanctums. Ellen Mcgirt, Fortune, "Happy Birthday Hip-Hop: raceAhead," 12 Aug. 2019 Two of my favorites are Richard Dawkins and Stephen Hawking, one leading us into the inner sanctum of our selfish genes and the other to the very precipice of the event horizon. New York Times, "What Does the Author of ‘Where the Crawdads Sing’ Think You Should Read?," 11 July 2019 Even in the centuries since, these lands have persisted as a rugged sanctum for outdoorsmen. Zach Montague, New York Times, "An Adirondack Wilderness All Your Own," 22 July 2019 Most egregiously for many Sikhs, the inner sanctum, the Akal Takht was severely damaged, and the irreplaceable reference library was burned. Ali Kazimi, Quartz India, "A Canadian artist is keeping the embers of Sikh separatism alive with false equivalences," 27 June 2019 Late at night, a senior police officer guided Liu Wanyong, then a budding investigative journalist, through the inner sanctum of one of the scariest domains in China, the Ministry of Public Security. Jane Perlez, New York Times, "For China’s Leading Investigative Reporter, Enough Is Enough," 7 June 2019 Acquiring treasures for these sanctums would, presumably, only increase the sense of pomp to the ceremonies performed there. Kevin Conley, Town & Country, "Old Money Hardware for a Man in a Hurry," 20 Oct. 2015 The Hall of Fame acknowledges—on a plaque in its inner sanctum—that the Doubleday myth is untrue. The Economist, "Baseball and exceptionalism," 8 June 2019 He is not allowed back in the inner sanctum of her heart. Elena Nicolaou,, "The Handmaid's Tale," 6 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sanctum.' 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 sanctum

1577, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for sanctum

Late Latin, from Latin, neuter of sanctus sacred

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Statistics for sanctum

Last Updated

4 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for sanctum

The first known use of sanctum was in 1577

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English Language Learners Definition of sanctum

somewhat formal
: a place where you are not bothered by other people
: a holy or sacred place

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Comments on sanctum

What made you want to look up sanctum? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


one from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

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