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[sangk-tuh m]
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noun, plural sanc·tums, sanc·ta [sangk-tuh] /ˈsæŋk tə/.
  1. a sacred or holy place.
  2. an inviolably private place or retreat.
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Origin of sanctum

1570–80; noun use of neuter of Latin sānctus; see Sanctus
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for sanctum

altar, shrine, temple, chancel, sacrarium

Examples from the Web for sanctum

Historical Examples of sanctum

  • As soon as Pierre was alone in the Cardinal's sanctum he examined it with curiosity.

    The Three Cities Trilogy, Complete

    Emile Zola

  • I summon my companion, who joins me, and we enter our sanctum.

  • "So this is her sanctum," thinks her husband, glancing around.

    Molly Bawn

    Margaret Wolfe Hamilton

  • I then called on Wendell Phillips in his sanctum for the same purpose.

  • In the sanctum was Devi, a large black figure with ten arms.

    Vikram and the Vampire

    Richard F. Burton

British Dictionary definitions for sanctum


noun plural -tums or -ta (-tə)
  1. a sacred or holy place
  2. a room or place of total privacy or inviolability
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Word Origin for sanctum

C16: from Latin, from 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 sanctum


1570s, "holy place of the Jewish tabernacle," from Latin sanctum "a holy place," as in Late Latin sanctum sanctorum "holy of holies" (translating Greek to hagion ton hagion, translating Hebrew qodesh haqqodashim), from neuter of sanctus "holy" (see saint (n.)). In English, sanctum sanctorum attested from c.1400; in sense of "a person's private retreat" from 1706.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper