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[seyf-tee] /ˈseɪf ti/
noun, plural safeties.
the state of being safe; freedom from the occurrence or risk of injury, danger, or loss.
the quality of averting or not causing injury, danger, or loss.
a contrivance or device to prevent injury or avert danger.
Also called lock, safety catch, safety lock. a locking or cutoff device that prevents a gun from being fired accidentally.
the action of keeping safe.
  1. an act or play in which a player on the offensive team is tackled in his own end zone or downs the ball there, or in which the ball goes out of bounds on a fumble, having last been in bounds in or over the end zone and having last been in the possession of an offensive player.
    Compare touchback.
  2. an award of two points to the opposing team on this play.
  3. Also called safety man. a player on defense who lines up farthest behind the line of scrimmage.
Baseball. a base hit, especially a one-base hit.
Slang. a condom.
Obsolete. close confinement or custody.
Origin of safety
1250-1300; Middle English sauvete < Middle French. See safe, -ty2
Related forms
self-safety, noun
supersafety, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for safety
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Consideration for the safety of his kind friends forbids this.

    The Petticoat Commando Johanna Brandt
  • There was that Spanish merchantman calmly walking off to safety.

    A Prisoner of Morro Upton Sinclair
  • He knew nothing of guns or dogs; he had lived all his life in safety.

    Wild Animals at Home Ernest Thompson Seton
  • In the pressure of business there is present safety and ultimate relief.

    Deerbrook Harriet Martineau
  • One of these he proposed climbing—as that seemed his only chance for safety.

    The Bush Boys Captain Mayne Reid
British Dictionary definitions for safety


noun (pl) -ties
the quality of being safe
freedom from danger or risk of injury
a contrivance or device designed to prevent injury
(American football)
  1. Also called safetyman. either of two players who defend the area furthest back in the field
  2. a play in which the offensive team causes the ball to cross its own goal line and then grounds the ball behind that line, scoring two points for the opposing team Compare touchback
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for safety

early 14c., from Old French sauvete "safety, safeguard; salvation; security, surety," earlier salvetet (11c., Modern French sauveté), from Medieval Latin salvitatem (nominative salvitas) "safety," from Latin salvus (see safe (adj.)). Meaning "trigger-lock on a gun" is attested from 1881.

As a North American football position, first recorded 1931. As a type of score against one's own team, 1881. Safety-valve, which diminishes the risk of explosion, is from 1797; figurative sense recorded from 1818. Safety-net in literal sense (in machinery) by 1916, later of aerial circus performances (1920s); figurative use by 1950. Safety-first as an accident-prevention slogan first recorded 1873.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for safety


n,n phr

A condom; french letter, rubber (1897+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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