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 shelterless

Historical Examples of shelterless

  • They saw that their case was hapless, yet on they came across the shelterless plain.

    The Long Roll

    Mary Johnston

  • He was a starving, shelterless outcast at the moment of his crime.

    Paris and the Social Revolution

    Alvan Francis Sanborn

  • When I was shelterless, did you not open to me your home and your heart?

    Last of the Incas

    Gustave Aimard

  • It created an icy coldness as in a uniform and shelterless plain.

    The Apostles

    Ernest Renan

  • Can Boston allow New York to excel it in caring for it shelterless workers?


    Edwin A. Brown

British Dictionary definitions for shelterless



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 shelterless



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