[ sangk-choo-er-ee ]
/ ˈsæŋk tʃuˌɛr i /

noun, plural sanc·tu·ar·ies.

Nearby words

  1. sanction,
  2. sanction mark,
  3. sanctions,
  4. sanctitude,
  5. sanctity,
  6. sanctuary city,
  7. sanctuary lamp,
  8. sanctum,
  9. sanctum sanctorum,
  10. sanctus

Origin of sanctuary

1300–50; Middle English < Late Latin sānctuārium, equivalent to sānctu- (replacing Latin sānct-), combining form of sanctus (see Sanctus) + -ārium -ary

Related formssanc·tu·ar·ied, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for sanctuary

British Dictionary definitions for sanctuary


/ (ˈsæŋktjʊərɪ) /

noun plural -aries

Word Origin for 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

Word Origin and History for sanctuary



early 14c., "building set apart for holy worship," from Anglo-French sentuarie, Old French saintuaire "sacred relic, holy thing; reliquary, sanctuary," from Late Latin sanctuarium "a sacred place, shrine" (especially the Hebrew Holy of Holies; see sanctum), also "a private room," from Latin sanctus "holy" (see saint (n.)).

Since the time of Constantine and by medieval Church law, fugitives or debtors enjoyed immunity from arrest in certain churches, hence transferred sense of "immunity from punishment" (late 14c.). Exceptions were made in England in cases of treason and sacrilege. General (non-ecclesiastical) sense of "place of refuge or protection" is attested from 1560s; as "land set aside for wild plants or animals to breed and live" it is recorded from 1879.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper