[ seyf ]
/ seɪf /

adjective, saf·er, saf·est.


Informal. in a safe manner; safely: Learn how to drive safe.See Grammar note at adverb.



    play it safe, play(def 85).

Origin of safe

1250–1300; (adj.) Middle English sauf, saf < Anglo-French saf, Old French sauf < Latin salvus intact, whole; (noun) late Middle English save, orig. derivative of save1, assimilated to the adj.; cf. salvation


1 protected, sound, guarded. Safe, secure may both imply that something can be regarded as free from danger. These words are frequently interchangeable. Safe, however, is applied rather to a person or thing that is out of or has passed beyond the reach of danger: The ship is safe in port. Secure is applied to that about which there is no need to fear or worry: to feel secure about the future; The foundation of the house does not seem very secure.
4 sure, reliable.
5 wary, careful.
9 strongbox, coffer, chest, safe-deposit box.

Related forms Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for unsafe

British Dictionary definitions for unsafe (1 of 2)


/ (ʌnˈseɪf) /


not safe; perilous
(of a criminal conviction) based on inadequate or false evidence

British Dictionary definitions for unsafe (2 of 2)


/ (seɪf) /



in a safe conditionthe children are safe in bed now
play safe to act in a way least likely to cause danger, controversy, or defeat


Derived Forms

safely, adverbsafeness, noun

Word Origin for safe

C13: from Old French salf, from Latin salvus; related to Latin salus safety
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

Idioms and Phrases with unsafe


In addition to the idioms beginning with safe

  • safe and sound
  • safe as houses

also see:

  • better safe than sorry
  • on the safe side
  • play it safe
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.