[ sangk-choo-er-ee ]
See synonyms for sanctuary on
noun,plural sanc·tu·ar·ies.
  1. a sacred or holy place.

  2. Judaism.

    • the Biblical tabernacle or the Temple in Jerusalem.

    • the holy of holies of these places of worship.

  1. an especially holy place in a temple or church.

  2. the part of a church around the altar; the chancel.

  3. a church or other sacred place where fugitives were formerly entitled to immunity from arrest.

  4. immunity afforded by refuge in such a place.

  5. any place of refuge; asylum.

  6. a tract of land where birds and wildlife, especially those hunted for sport, can breed and take refuge in safety from hunters.

Origin of sanctuary

First recorded in 1300–50; Middle English, from Late Latin sānctuārium, from sānctu- (combining form of sanctus; see Sanctus) + -ārium -ary

Other words for sanctuary

Other words from sanctuary

  • sanc·tu·ar·ied, adjective

Words Nearby sanctuary Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use sanctuary in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for sanctuary


/ (ˈsæŋktjʊərɪ) /

nounplural -aries
  1. a holy place

  2. a consecrated building or shrine

  1. Old Testament

    • the Israelite temple at Jerusalem, esp the holy of holies

    • the tabernacle in which the Ark was enshrined during the wanderings of the Israelites

  2. the chancel, or that part of a sacred building surrounding the main altar

    • a sacred building where fugitives were formerly entitled to immunity from arrest or execution

    • the immunity so afforded

  3. a place of refuge; asylum

  4. a place, protected by law, where animals, esp birds, can live and breed without interference

Origin of sanctuary

C14: from Old French sainctuarie, from Late Latin sanctuārium repository for holy things, from Latin sanctus holy

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