shel·​ter | \ ˈshel-tər How to pronounce shelter (audio) \

Definition of shelter

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : something that covers or affords protection a bomb shelter
b : an establishment providing food and shelter (as to the homeless)
c : an establishment that houses and feeds stray or unwanted animals
2 : a position or the state of being covered and protected took shelter


sheltered; sheltering\ ˈshel-​t(ə-​)riŋ How to pronounce sheltering (audio) \

Definition of shelter (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to constitute or provide a shelter for : protect has led a sheltered life
2 : to place under shelter or protection sheltered himself in a mountain cave
3 : to protect (income) from taxation

intransitive verb

: to take shelter
shelter in place
: to remain inside in one's current location until a danger has passed : to temporarily take shelter in a protected space The … campus was placed under lockdown in response to the shooting. People on campus were advised to shelter in place. No students were hurt or endangered, the school said.— Julia Jacobo These communities—including our own—need to start hardening themselves against future fires. That means preparing homes for fires the way we already do for earthquakes and floods. It also means developing better alert systems, heeding evacuation warnings when they come and being prepared to shelter in place when escape routes are cut off …The Press Democrat (Santa Rosa, California)

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from shelter


shelterless \ ˈshel-​tər-​ləs How to pronounce shelterless (audio) \ adjective


shelterer \ ˈshel-​tər-​ər How to pronounce shelterer (audio) \ noun

Synonyms for shelter

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of shelter in a Sentence

Noun We made a shelter from branches. a shelter for battered women The organization provides food and shelter for homeless people. The crowd ran for shelter when the rain started. They sought shelter from the storm. Verb A cave sheltered the climbers during the storm. They sheltered in a cave while they waited for the storm to pass.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun What’s left for travelers desperate to escape three months of shelter in place? David Ferry,, "Everything you need to know about camping in California this summer," 25 June 2020 Six Flags closed down parks earlier this year as a result of shelter-in-place restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of the new coronavirus. Micah Maidenberg, WSJ, "Six Flags Hires Finance Chief as Parks Company Looks to Emerge From Pandemic," 24 June 2020 Find shelter in the event a tornado warning is issued, staying away from windows, doors and outside walls. Brooke Kemp, The Indianapolis Star, "Indianapolis weather: First week of summer brings potential for storms," 22 June 2020 At the time, McNeil didn’t know the man was targeting police, and the former offensive guard scrambled to find shelter in a hotel. Dallas News, "#BlackatSMU struggles show how systemic changes come too slowly for many," 19 June 2020 As shelter-in-place restrictions ease across the country, many golf courses are back in business, and both newbies to the game and old hands are lining up to hit the links. Lesley Kennedy, CNN Underscored, "The best golf gear, according to experts," 18 June 2020 Although the dorms provide shelter, other opportunities are sparse. USA TODAY, "Silver Dollar City, ‘Thunder’ silenced, empty Vegas buffets: News from around our 50 states," 16 June 2020 According to the executive director of the shelter, Ruby Corado, his Facebook post also mentions the names of two D.C. nightclubs, Noa Noa and Adiente Club, which both host LGBTQ Latinx events. Elly Belle,, "Four Years Later, The LGBTQ+ Community Still Fights For The Lives Lost At Pulse Nightclub," 13 June 2020 Of course, adds Schell, patterns are likely to vary from city to city and state to state, given the patchwork of shelter-in-place restrictions. Sarah Zhang, The Atlantic, "At Least the Pandemic Isn’t Creating Super Rats," 8 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Evacuation centers are open to shelter those forced from their homes. Kelly Mccleary, CNN, "Evacuations ordered after fireworks spark wildfire in Utah," 28 June 2020 The race was postponed from May to September, but with no end in sight to shelter-in-place orders, event organizers have decided to cancel the live event and instead host a virtual celebration of the historic race. Anna Bauman,, "Bay to Breakers canceled, organizers tell participants to costume up for individual run," 26 June 2020 With eight out of 10 COVID-19 deaths in adults 65 years old and older, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises them and those with a serious health condition to shelter in place. Stephen Leahy, National Geographic, "As summer arrives, how will the most vulnerable escape deadly heat and COVID-19?," 16 June 2020 The Park Springs elder care facility just outside of Atlanta took the unusual approach of having roughly 70 employees shelter in place on campus to protect its residents from the new coronavirus. USA TODAY, "Silver Dollar City, ‘Thunder’ silenced, empty Vegas buffets: News from around our 50 states," 16 June 2020 When the UC Irvine campus abruptly shut down in mid-March in response to the coronavirus — like many colleges across the country — Lori Sinanian immediately left her nearby apartment to shelter with her family in Los Angeles. Lila Seidman, Los Angeles Times, "Students struggle to make campus housing decisions as colleges make reopening plans," 12 June 2020 Residents of a nearby apartment complex were told to shelter in place, but both restrictions have since been lifted. oregonlive, "Gas leak at Beaverton building sends one person to the hospital with life-threatening injuries," 10 June 2020 Mateo Hernandez, who hasn’t lived in Hondo for seven years but came home from Chicago to shelter with his family during the pandemic, was thrilled a protest was organized. Elaine Ayala,, "Ayala: George Floyd protests come to small-town Texas," 6 June 2020 However, this long holiday weekend is unlike any other as many of us continue to shelter in place during the coronavirus pandemic. Ariana Romero,, "You Have 12 New Netflix Treats To Binge Over The Bank Holiday Weekend," 22 May 2020

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

See More

First Known Use of shelter


1585, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1590, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for shelter


origin unknown

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about shelter

Time Traveler for shelter

Time Traveler

The first known use of shelter was in 1585

See more words from the same year

Statistics for shelter

Last Updated

30 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Shelter.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Jul. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for shelter


How to pronounce shelter (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of shelter

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a structure that covers or protects people or things
: a place that provides food and protection for people or animals that need assistance
: a place to live



English Language Learners Definition of shelter (Entry 2 of 2)

: to protect (someone) from danger, bad weather, etc. : to provide shelter for (someone)
: to be in a place that provides protection from danger, bad weather, etc. : to take shelter


shel·​ter | \ ˈshel-tər How to pronounce shelter (audio) \

Kids Definition of shelter

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : something that covers or protects We made a shelter from branches.
2 : a place that provides food and housing to those in need a homeless shelter an animal shelter
3 : the condition of being protected I found shelter from the storm.


sheltered; sheltering

Kids Definition of shelter (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to provide with a place that covers or protects : be a shelter for A cave sheltered the climbers.
2 : to find and use a shelter for protection … within minutes, half the class was sheltering under desks …— J. K. Rowling, Chamber of Secrets

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on shelter

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


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!