verb (used with object)

verb (used without object)

to take shelter; find a refuge: He sheltered in a barn.
Finance. to invest money in a tax shelterd.

Origin of shelter

1575–85; perhaps alteration of obsolete sheltron testudo, Old English scieldtruma, equivalent to scield shield + truma body of fighting men; see trim
Related formsshel·ter·er, nounshel·ter·ing·ly, adverbshel·ter·less, adjectiveshel·ter·less·ness, nounself-shel·ter, nounun·shel·ter·ing, adjective

Synonyms for shelter

Synonym study

1. See cover. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for shelter

Contemporary Examples of shelter

Historical Examples of shelter

  • For, if he could get shelter for three days, the hue and cry would subside.

  • If He does not mean us to keep her in the shelter of our home for the present, we do not know what He means.

  • It might be an evil start to come to his door so late and claim the shelter of his roof.

    The White Company

    Arthur Conan Doyle

  • Shelter, covering, bed—beyond these all is mere superfluity.

    The Roof of France

    Matilda Betham-Edwards

  • Bullets were flying in all directions, and there was no question of shelter.

British Dictionary definitions for shelter



something that provides cover or protection, as from weather or danger; place of refuge
the protection afforded by such a cover; refuge
the state of being sheltered


(tr) to provide with or protect by a shelter
(intr) to take cover, as from rain; find refuge
(tr) to act as a shelter for; take under one's protection
Derived Formsshelterer, nounshelterless, adjective

Word Origin for shelter

C16: of uncertain origin
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 shelter

1580s, "structure affording protection," possibly an alteration of Middle English sheltron, sheldtrume "roof or wall formed by locked shields," from Old English scyldtruma, from scield "shield" (see shield (n.)) + truma "troop," related to Old English trum "firm, strong" (see trim).

If so, the original notion is of a compact body of men protected by interlocking shields. OED finds this "untenable" and proposed derivation from shield + -ture. Figurative sense is recorded from 1580s; meaning "temporary lodging for homeless poor" is first recorded 1890 in Salvation Army jargon; sense of "temporary home for animals" is from 1971. Related: Shelterless.


1580s, "to screen, protect," from shelter (n.); in the income investment sense, from 1955. Meaning "to take shelter" is from c.1600. Related: Sheltered; sheltering.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper