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 shelter (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 shelter (audio) \ adjective


shelterer \ ˈshel-​tər-​ər How to pronounce shelter (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 The only changes there would be creation of a new habitat area and upgrades to the sand recreation area, including an emergency shelter for large animals, new volleyball courts and other recreational amenities. David Garrick, San Diego Union-Tribune, 16 June 2021 People require food, shelter, companionship, sleep, etc., but businesses rely on cash flow. Michael Mcmullen, Forbes, 15 June 2021 Christopher Constant, who represents downtown on the Assembly, said his understanding was that a single, large site shelter was being proposed. Michelle Theriault Boots, Anchorage Daily News, 11 June 2021 People who have fled Kayah state, which borders Thailand, urgently need shelter, food, water and health care, according to the UN, and the organization urged security forces to let aid workers and supplies through. Harmeet Kaur, CNN, 9 June 2021 The The American Pet Products Association reported that about 31% of cats are obtained from an animal shelter or humane society, 28% from friends or family members and around 27% as strays. Karen Caffarini,, 7 June 2021 Prominently displayed on the wall of her shelter is a poster of a ship barreling through ice and large waves. Olivia Truffaut-wong,, 7 June 2021 The area's residents were asked to evacuate immediately to a shelter or another location outside of the affected area, a tweet from the Sheriff's Office said. Chelsea Curtis, The Arizona Republic, 6 June 2021 Nevertheless, hundreds of organizations that provide services such as emergency shelter, legal aid and mental health therapy keep straining to meet demand. Julia Barajas, Los Angeles Times, 28 May 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Fostering is an amazing way to help shelter pets who need a bit of extra care before heading to the adoption floor but do not need to be hospitalized. The Republic/usa Today Network, The Arizona Republic, 19 June 2021 Even better, a portion of the proceeds earned from this limited-time brew will go to Operation At Ease, which is a charity that pairs shelter dogs with deserving veterans and first responders. Fox News, 31 Mar. 2021 Beginning at Last Dollar Pass, these four mountain dwellings shelter hikers on a 30-mile traverse between the resort towns of Telluride and Ouray. Andrew Nelson, WSJ, 27 Mar. 2021 Cody was rescued from a Newaygo County shelter 14 years ago, his family wrote. Nushrat Rahman, Detroit Free Press, 14 Jan. 2021 Next, Orange would send OCFR firefighters to residents living in trailers or other locations that could be compromised by water and wind, advising them to head to shelter. Joe Mario Pedersen,, 24 May 2021 In Houston, the National Association of Christian Churches, which had been helping to shelter children, was abruptly closed, shortly before attorneys were set to visit the site. Priscilla Alvarez, CNN, 24 May 2021 The Biden hope was to shelter behind new global tax rules so the antigrowth consequences of its domestic tax policies would be less conspicuous—and so U.S. companies would face less of a competitive disadvantage against foreign peers. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 21 May 2021 At the same time, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has diverted thousands of personnel to help run the country’s coronavirus vaccination campaign, as well as help shelter unaccompanied children crossing the southern border., 20 May 2021

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

19 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Shelter.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Jun. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for shelter



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


Test Your Vocabulary

Return of Name that Color!

  • a light greenish blue color
  • Name that color:
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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