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shel·​ter ˈshel-tər How to pronounce shelter (audio)
: something that covers or affords protection
a bomb shelter
: an establishment providing food and shelter (as to the homeless)
: an establishment that houses and feeds stray or unwanted animals
: a position or the state of being covered and protected
took shelter
shelterless adjective


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

transitive verb

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

intransitive verb

: to take shelter
shelterer noun
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)

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
The lawsuit seeks to rescind three executive orders issued by Bass as part of the homelessness emergency, two of which were written to speed up the city’s review and approval of homeless shelters and affordable housing. David Zahniser, Los Angeles Times, 26 Sep. 2023 These turbines cannot seek shelter in a safe harbor. William Booth, Washington Post, 26 Sep. 2023 The kitten was taken to the shelter operated by PAWS of Coronado, where he was examined and found to have minor abrasions. Karen Kucher, San Diego Union-Tribune, 26 Sep. 2023 Overflow shelter opens in El Paso to accommodate migrant surge Omar Villafranca Omar Villafranca is a CBS News correspondent based in Dallas. Omar Villafranca, CBS News, 26 Sep. 2023 Plan your trip: Russell-Brasstown Scenic Byway 13 of 44 Georgia: Sweetwater Creek State Park This 2,549-acre green space situated in Lithia Springs offers several hiking trails and picnic shelters, as well as a site of historic mill ruins, all in addition to views of the region's fall foliage. Southern Living Editors, Southern Living, 25 Sep. 2023 Leeser said the city plans to open a new shelter, though on Saturday El Paso chartered five buses to move migrants to cities such as New York, Chicago and Denver. Michael Lee, Fox News, 24 Sep. 2023 An overflow shelter in northeast El Paso, where about 6,500 migrants are in custody, planned to open its doors Saturday evening as the city faces an unprecedented surge of migrants crossing the southern US border, Deputy City Manager Mario D’Agostino said in a news conference. Rosa Flores, CNN, 23 Sep. 2023 What's more, for every pair of socks purchased, Bombas donates a pair to homeless shelters. Emily Shiffer, Women's Health, 9 Sep. 2023
Housing advocates also assert that an end to the right to shelter policies for migrants will spur a surge in homelessness. Kiara Alfonseca, ABC News, 26 Sep. 2023 The Legal Aid Society, which filed the litigation that led to the right to shelter, and the Coalition for the Homeless issued a joint statement strongly opposing the city’s move. Hurubie Meko, New York Times, 23 Sep. 2023 The mayor says he’s legally obligated to aid migrants because of the 1981 consent decree that guaranteed the right to shelter. Hillary Chura, The Christian Science Monitor, 20 Sep. 2023 Following his arrest in Culiacán, chaos erupted in the city with authorities asking citizens to shelter at home as law enforcement clashed with cartel members. Whitney Wild, CNN, 18 Sep. 2023 The only other jurisdiction with a similar right to shelter is the state of Massachusetts, which guarantees housing to families (but not individuals). Joanna Slater, Washington Post, 16 Sep. 2023 City plans so far have focused largely on sheltering people in hotel rooms, though officials have said the city needs at least one congregate shelter. Emily Goodykoontz, Anchorage Daily News, 13 Sep. 2023 Apartments in Boston, Springfield, and New Bedford have sheltered at least 129 Massachusetts foster children since the state’s child welfare agency began using the controversial approach to housing less than a year ago. Jason Laughlin,, 12 Sep. 2023 The ongoing influx of asylum seekers caused the number of people being sheltered in New York City to balloon from around sixty-seven thousand last December to a hundred and eleven thousand in August, according to city data. Jennifer Egan, The New Yorker, 11 Sep. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'shelter.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



origin unknown

First Known Use


1585, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1590, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of shelter was in 1585

Dictionary Entries Near shelter

Cite this Entry

“Shelter.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Oct. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
shel·​ter ˈshel-tər How to pronounce shelter (audio)
: something that covers or protects
an air raid shelter
a fallout shelter
: a place that provides food and lodging (as to the homeless)
: a place that houses and feeds stray or unwanted animals
: the state of being protected
take shelter from a storm


2 of 2 verb
sheltered; sheltering -t(ə-)riŋ How to pronounce shelter (audio)
: to be a shelter for : provide with shelter
: to find and use a shelter

More from Merriam-Webster on shelter

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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