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

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 Prices for food, shelter and new cars increased the most in April, while the price of energy dropped after rising in recent months. Irina Ivanova, CBS News, 11 May 2022 Worries about continually rising costs for housing and shelter are building. Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press, 11 May 2022 The collaboration consisted of having 41 personnel on and off-site maintaining the shelter and offering case management services. San Diego Union-Tribune, 8 May 2022 When people flee their homeland and arrive in a foreign country, staples like food, water, clothing and shelter are critical. Tanya Mohn, Forbes, 1 May 2022 Mortgage rates that exceed increases in what families pay for groceries, shelter and transportation have been a fact of life for decades. Shawn Tully, Fortune, 26 Apr. 2022 How to find support: Milwaukee's Office of Violence Prevention recommends these resources for free support: Sojourner Family Peace Center's domestic violence shelter and support: 414-933-2722. Elliot Hughes, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 25 Apr. 2022 There's several hundred American volunteer groups trying to help people get food and shelter and clothing. NBC News, 24 Apr. 2022 DEC charities and their local partners are in Ukraine and in neighboring countries are working to provide food, water, shelter and medical assistance to those in need. Rania Aniftos, Billboard, 22 Apr. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb There was a grill inside, and customers could shelter, if need be, under a tarpaulin cover. Washington Post, 21 Apr. 2022 Everything from food to shelter to fueling up the car cost consumers more in March. Susan Selasky, Detroit Free Press, 12 Apr. 2022 To that end the West can shelter the country’s women, children and elderly as a defining contrast to Mr. Putin’s barbarism. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 22 Mar. 2022 In this case, with the high business income, this owner and his partner could shelter closer to $1 million dollars this year with a Profit Sharing 401(k) and Cash Balance Pension Plan combination. David Rae, Forbes, 14 Mar. 2022 He's helped shelter people in underground bunkers, driven them to borders and provided money through a fundraiser. NBC News, 7 Mar. 2022 On those nights when the shelling was fiercest, when the families in his apartment building would shelter in the stairwell (with TV sets moved to the hallways to keep an eye on the news), Raoul would transform into a superstar of cards. New York Times, 15 Jan. 2022 Often, there will be stylish luxury homes or cozy spaces for vacationers trying to get away, but tiny homes are also increasingly being used for a different purpose: shelter for homeless communities around the country. Taylor Wilson, USA TODAY, 7 Dec. 2021 Police instructed people to shelter in place, lock their doors and refrain from leaving their business or home, according to the RCMP, after reports at 12:26 PT of an active shooter driving a Ford pickup. Raja Razek, CNN, 25 Nov. 2021 See More

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.

Keep scrolling for 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

Dictionary Entries Near shelter




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for shelter

Last Updated

14 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Shelter.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 May. 2022.

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

More Definitions for 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, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

More from Merriam-Webster on shelter

Nglish: Translation of shelter for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of shelter for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about shelter


Test Your Vocabulary

Which Word Does Not Belong?

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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