Definition of sanctuary noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//ˈsæŋktʃuəri//
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈsæŋktʃueri//
    (pl. sanctuaries) Religious buildings, Religious places
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  1. 1[countable] an area where wild birds or animals are protected and encouraged to breed synonym reserve a bird/wildlife sanctuary
  2. 2[uncountable] safety and protection, especially for people who are being chased or attacked to take sanctuary in a place The government offered sanctuary to 4 000 refugees. She longed for the sanctuary of her own home. a place of sanctuary
  3. 3[countable, usually singular] a safe place, especially one where people who are being chased or attacked can stay and be protected The church became a sanctuary for the refugees.
  4. 4[countable] a holy building or the part of it that is considered the most holy the sanctuary of Poseidon at Sourvion Women were forbidden to enter the sanctuary. See related entries: Religious buildings, Religious places
  5. Word OriginMiddle English (in sense (4)): from Old French sanctuaire, from Latin sanctuarium, from sanctus ‘holy’. Early use in reference to a church or other sacred place where a fugitive was immune, by the law of the medieval Church, from arrest, gave rise to senses (1 to 3).Extra examples In former times, criminals could take sanctuary inside a church. It had been built as a sanctuary from World War II bombs. She retreated swiftly to the sanctuary of her room. Thousands of refugees have sought sanctuary in neighbouring countries. Thousands of refugees have sought sanctuary over the border. During the uprising the royal family took sanctuary in an abbey. For many people, gardens are a place of sanctuary providing a retreat from the stress of everyday life. The island was declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1969. Women were excluded from entering the sanctuary where the priest stood at the altar.
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: sanctuary