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)

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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 The University of Michigan is under a shelter-in-place order due to recent spikes in COVID-19 cases on campus, so that’s not an ideal scenario to start the football season. Joseph Goodman |, al, "Gus Bus meets Lane Train; Sparks will fly in Knoxville," 22 Oct. 2020 The San Francisco Police Department, for example, has issued 149 warnings and 28 citations to people and businesses for violating the local shelter-in-place order. Bryan Mena,, "Some people still don’t wear masks in the Bay Area. They probably won’t be fined," 18 Oct. 2020 While breweries were shut down during Ohio’s shelter-in-place order, they were still allowed to produce for retail distribution. Marc Bona, cleveland, "Greater Cleveland breweries win at 2020 Great American Beer Festival," 17 Oct. 2020 The casita became indispensable when Covid-19 struck and a shelter-in-place order was issued. Christina Poletto, WSJ, "In Austin, a Backyard Shed Makes Way for a Contemporary Casita," 14 Oct. 2020 Providence: The University of Rhode Island issued a two-week shelter-in-place order Friday for fraternity and sorority members, citing a high number of coronavirus cases in the school’s Greek system. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, "AA shrine, haunted houses, tramway: News from around our 50 states," 12 Oct. 2020 All nonessential personnel were told to go back home, and a shelter-in-place order was issued for students living on campus. NBC News, "Threats over Black Lives Matter mural prompt lockdown at campus in North Carolina," 10 Oct. 2020 On March 22, the day Dallas County’s shelter-in-place order went into effect and during the 20th week of her pregnancy, Katie went into surgery. Dallas News, "Life with multiples: North Texas couple adjusts to raising quadruplets despite challenges," 4 Oct. 2020 As the novel coronavirus surged in Georgia this summer, aggressive efforts by the city of Athens to curb transmission — with the state’s first local shelter-in-place order and its second mask mandate — looked to be paying off. Washington Post, "Live updates: Trump says he will quarantine after White House aide Hope Hicks tests positive for coronavirus," 2 Oct. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Threatening emails over a Black Lives Matter mural at the University of North Carolina Asheville prompted a campuswide lockdown on Friday, with classes canceled and students told to shelter in place. NBC News, "Threats over Black Lives Matter mural prompt lockdown at campus in North Carolina," 10 Oct. 2020 That initiative, funded in part by both Uber and Lyft, would shelter gig-economy companies from having to permanently classify drivers as employees in the state. Laura Forman, WSJ, "Lyft Orders Up a Side Dish," 7 Oct. 2020 When, on March 16th, six counties in California’s Bay Area ordered nonessential businesses to close and residents to shelter at home, the ecology that the space has nurtured over decades was disturbed overnight. Dan Piepenbring, The New Yorker, "How a Revered Studio for Artists with Disabilities Is Surviving at a Distance," 24 Sep. 2020 Unable to evacuate, they have been told to shelter in place — including jumping in the reservoir, if necessary. Chronicle Staff,, "California Wildfires: Live Updates Sept. 4-5," 7 Sep. 2020 On one level, the name compares people to shelter dogs trying to find their place in the world. Anne Nickoloff, cleveland, "Cleveland indie band Shelter Pup. releases new single ‘Ghosts in the Graveyard’," 2 Oct. 2020 When Oakland residents were asked to shelter in place this spring, the Euclid Manor housemates made their own policies around guests, travel, and hygiene. Arielle Pardes, Wired, "1 House, 40 Roommates? During Covid, Co-Living Adds Up," 2 Oct. 2020 While broadcast revenue continues to shelter the U.K.’s top clubs from the worst of Covid-19, those in the lower leagues at the heart of local communities are heavily reliant on match-day receipts and corporate event sales. David Hellier,, "English Soccer Finds Itself in Line for Coronavirus Bailout," 1 Oct. 2020 Historically, the fire mosaic protected animals by allowing for refugia, fire-resistant spots that shelter wildlife during burns and in their aftermath. Ben Goldfarb, The Atlantic, "The West’s Animals Can’t Survive This," 30 Sep. 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.

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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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Learn More about shelter

Time Traveler for shelter

Time Traveler

The first known use of shelter was in 1585

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Statistics for shelter

Last Updated

28 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Shelter.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Oct. 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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Comments on shelter

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