adjective, saf·er, saf·est.


Informal. in a safe manner; safely: Learn how to drive safe.See Grammar note at adverb.



    play it safe, play(def 85).

Origin of safe

1250–1300; (adj.) Middle English sauf, saf < Anglo-French saf, Old French sauf < Latin salvus intact, whole; (noun) late Middle English save, orig. derivative of save1, assimilated to the adj.; cf. salvation
Related formssafe·ly, adverbsafe·ness, nounqua·si-safe, adjectivequa·si-safe·ly, adverbsu·per·safe, adjectivesu·per·safe·ly, adverbsu·per·safe·ness, nounul·tra·safe, adjectiveun·safe, adjectiveun·safe·ly, adverbun·safe·ness, noun

Synonyms for safe

1. protected, sound, guarded. Safe, secure may both imply that something can be regarded as free from danger. These words are frequently interchangeable. Safe, however, is applied rather to a person or thing that is out of or has passed beyond the reach of danger: The ship is safe in port. Secure is applied to that about which there is no need to fear or worry: to feel secure about the future; The foundation of the house does not seem very secure. 4. sure, reliable. 5. wary, careful. 9. strongbox, coffer, chest, safe-deposit box. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for safe

Contemporary Examples of safe

Historical Examples of safe

  • Two furlongs hence, and we shall be safe in the hostel at Dogmersfield.

    The Armourer's Prentices

    Charlotte M. Yonge

  • “Nay, he is safe at home, where I would I were,” sighed Kit.

    The Armourer's Prentices

    Charlotte M. Yonge

  • Gave the horses as much as I considered it safe for them to have at one time.

  • We are now safe again, and I must give the horses a few days' rest.

  • It traded with all the world and offered a safe home to the merchant and to the artisan.

    Ancient Man

    Hendrik Willem van Loon

British Dictionary definitions for safe



affording security or protection from harma safe place
(postpositive) free from dangeryou'll be safe here
secure from risk; certain; sounda safe investment; a safe bet
worthy of trust; prudenta safe companion
tending to avoid controversy or riska safe player
unable to do harm; not dangerousa criminal safe behind bars; water safe to drink
British informal excellent
on the safe side as a precaution


in a safe conditionthe children are safe in bed now
play safe to act in a way least likely to cause danger, controversy, or defeat


a strong container, usually of metal and provided with a secure lock, for storing money or valuables
a small ventilated cupboard-like container for storing food
US and Canadian a slang word for condom
Derived Formssafely, adverbsafeness, noun

Word Origin for safe

C13: from Old French salf, from Latin salvus; related to Latin salus safety
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

Word Origin and History for safe

c.1300, "unscathed, unhurt, uninjured; free from danger or molestation, in safety, secure; saved spiritually, redeemed, not damned;" from Old French sauf "protected, watched-over; assured of salvation," from Latin salvus "uninjured, in good health, safe," related to salus "good health," saluber "healthful," all from PIE *solwos from root *sol- "whole" (cf. Latin solidus "solid," Sanskrit sarvah "uninjured, intact, whole," Avestan haurva- "uninjured, intact," Old Persian haruva-, Greek holos "whole").

As a quasi-preposition from c.1300, on model of French and Latin cognates. From late 14c. as "rescued, delivered; protected; left alive, unkilled." Meaning "not exposed to danger" (of places) is attested from late 14c.; of actions, etc., "free from risk," first recorded 1580s. Meaning "sure, reliable, not a danger" is from c.1600. Sense of "conservative, cautious" is from 1823. Paired alliteratively with sound (adj.) from late 14c. The noun safe-conduct (late 13c.) is from Old French sauf-conduit (13c.).


"chest for keeping food or valuables," early 15c., save, from Middle French en sauf "in safety," from sauf (see safe (adj.)). Spelling with -f- first recorded 1680s, from influence of safe (adj.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with safe


In addition to the idioms beginning with safe

  • safe and sound
  • safe as houses

also see:

  • better safe than sorry
  • on the safe side
  • play it safe
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.