noun, plural safe·ties.
  1. the state of being safe; freedom from the occurrence or risk of injury, danger, or loss.
  2. the quality of averting or not causing injury, danger, or loss.
  3. a contrivance or device to prevent injury or avert danger.
  4. Also called lock, safety catch, safety lock. a locking or cutoff device that prevents a gun from being fired accidentally.
  5. the action of keeping safe.
  6. Football.
    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.
  7. Baseball. a base hit, especially a one-base hit.
  8. Slang. a condom.
  9. Obsolete. close confinement or custody.

Origin of safety

1250–1300; Middle English sauvete < Middle French. See safe, -ty2
Related formsself-safe·ty, nounsu·per·safe·ty, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for self-safety


noun plural -ties
  1. the quality of being safe
  2. freedom from danger or risk of injury
  3. a contrivance or device designed to prevent injury
  4. American football
    1. Also called: safetymaneither 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 teamCompare 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

Word Origin and History for self-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