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

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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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Both killed off prairie dogs, which make up 90 percent of a ferret’s diet and whose burrows provide its only shelter. Elizabeth Miller/undark, Popular Science, "The race to save the most elusive ferret in the U.S.," 11 Jan. 2020 Both killed off prairie dogs, which make up 90 percent of a ferret’s diet and whose burrows provide its only shelter. Elizabeth Miller, Scientific American, "Why Are America’s Black-Footed Ferrets Disappearing?," 9 Jan. 2020 Building a shelter for trafficked children, displaced LGBTQ youth and women who have suffered from domestic violence. Essence, "Netflix Shares Trailer For Tyler Perry's 'A Fall From Grace'," 3 Jan. 2020 Operates an emergency youth shelter for children ages newborn to 17 and transitional living program for 18- to 21-year-olds. Loyd Brumfield, Dallas News, "Mission Oak Cliff has provided hope to community for nearly 70 years," 1 Jan. 2020 As the sun goes down, Guy Zegue distributes manioc in front of his shelter at the Socada camp on Nov. 23, 2019. Suyin Haynes, Time, "'No Safety Net.' How Climate Change and Unprecedented Flooding Is Destroying Communities in the Central African Republic," 24 Dec. 2019 For years, religious conservatives in Afghanistan have spread rumors that shelters for women are, in fact, secret brothels. Jane Ferguson, The New Yorker, "Peace Talks, the Taliban, and Afghan Women’s Uncertain Future," 19 Dec. 2019 Few pieces of gear are as important for your comfort and safety in the backcountry as your shelter. Philip Kiefer, Outside Online, "How to Re-Waterproof Your Tent," 16 Dec. 2019 That makes Alpena, with its one homeless shelter and its one soup kitchen, a beacon to poor people in the rural areas that surround it. John Carlisle,, "Homeless people Up North are drawn to this small Michigan community," 1 Dec. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Authorities have noted that the majority of those sheltered are simply scared to return home but have reported no damage in their house. Washington Post, "Damage reported after 5.0 quake strikes near Puerto Rico," 4 Feb. 2020 The federal government has called in military planes and ships to help evacuate people sheltering on beaches in both states. The Economist, "Australia’s bushfires intensify its debate about climate change," 2 Jan. 2020 Representatives from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees gave their talk last week to people like Kenia and Denis, who are sheltering at Ágape in Tijuana. San Diego Union-Tribune, "U.N. reps give migrants information on applying for asylum in Mexico," 22 Sep. 2019 Stone steps lead to a portico sheltering the glass-door entry. Lauren Beale,, "DJ Aric Christopher parts with his amped-up Venice getaway," 8 July 2019 Schools kept children inside or canceled classes, and a church soup kitchen sheltered homeless people from the smoke. Matthew Brown, Anchorage Daily News, "Smoke from more intense Western US wildfires raises health risks," 25 June 2019 The fighting has brought civilian life to a standstill, with most residents sheltering indoors. Frank Miles, Fox News, "US, Afghan forces battle Taliban in Ghazni," 14 Aug. 2018 Driven by strong winds and searing temperatures on New Year’s Eve, the blazes turned the sky blood red and rained down embers, forcing people to shelter on beaches or flee by fishing boats. Jason Scott, Fortune, "As Wildfires Ravage Australia, Tourists In Coastal Towns Struggle to Evacuate," 2 Jan. 2020 Open warehouses sprouted up to shelter stacks of hay bales., "In western Arizona, corporate megafarms turn water into profits, leaving small towns in the dust," 5 Dec. 2019

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.

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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

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Time Traveler for shelter

Time Traveler

The first known use of shelter was in 1585

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Statistics for shelter

Last Updated

26 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Shelter.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Feb. 2020.

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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

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