Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A sacred place, such as a church, temple, or mosque.
  • n. The holiest part of a sacred place, as the part of a Christian church around the altar.
  • n. A sacred place, such as a church, in which fugitives formerly were immune to arrest.
  • n. Immunity to arrest afforded by a sanctuary.
  • n. A place of refuge or asylum.
  • n. A reserved area in which birds and other animals, especially wild animals, are protected from hunting or molestation. See Synonyms at shelter.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A place of safety, refuge, or protection.
  • n. An area set aside for protection.
  • n. A state of being protected, asylum.
  • n. The consecrated (or sacred) area of a church or temple around its tabernacle or altar.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The most retired part of the temple at Jerusalem, called the Holy of Holies, in which was kept the ark of the covenant, and into which no person was permitted to enter except the high priest, and he only once a year, to intercede for the people; also, the most sacred part of the tabernacle; also, the temple at Jerusalem.
  • n. The most sacred part of any religious building, esp. that part of a Christian church in which the altar is placed.
  • n. A house consecrated to the worship of God; a place where divine service is performed; a church, temple, or other place of worship.
  • n. A sacred and inviolable asylum; a place of refuge and protection; shelter; refuge; protection.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A sacred or consecrated place; a holy spot; a place in which sacred things are kept.
  • n. Specifically— In Scripture, the temple at Jerusalem, particularly the most retired part of it, called the holy of holies, in which was kept the ark of the covenant, and into which no person was permitted to enter except the high priest, and that only once a year to intercede for the people. The same name was given to the corresponding part of the tabernacle in the wilderness (Ex. xxv. 8).
  • n. A house consecrated to the worship of God; a church.
  • n. The cella or most sacred part of an Egyptian, Greek, or Roman temple.
  • n. In classical antiquity, a sacred place, a locality, whether inclosed or not, but generally inclosed, consecrated to some divinity or group of divinities, often a grove, sometimes an inclosure of notable size and importance, containing shrines, temples, a theater, arrangements for gymnastic contests, places of shelter for suppliants or for the sick, etc.: as, the sanctuary of Æsculapius at Epidaurus.
  • n. The part of a church where the chief altar stands; the chancel; the presbytery. See cut under reredos.
  • n. A portable shrine containing relics.
  • n. A churchyard.
  • n. A place of refuge or protection; a sacred asylum; specifically, a church or other sacred place to which is attached the privilege of affording protection from arrest and the ordinary operation of the law to criminals, debtors, etc., taking refuge within its precincts.
  • n. Refuge; shelter; protection; specifically, the immunity from the ordinary operations of law afforded by the sacred character of a place, or by a specially privileged church, abbey, etc.
  • To place in safety as in a sanctuary; bestow safely.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a consecrated place where sacred objects are kept
  • n. a shelter from danger or hardship
  • n. area around the altar of a church for the clergy and choir; often enclosed by a lattice or railing

Etymologies

Middle English, from Old French sainctuarie, from Late Latin sānctuārium, from Latin sānctus, sacred; see sanctify.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English sanctuary , from Old French saintuaire, from Late Latin sanctuarium ("a sacred place, a shrine, a private cabinet, in Medieval Latin also temple, church, churdyard, cemetery, right of asylum"), from Latin sanctus ("holy, sacred"); see saint. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • And for that matter, a stronger link could be forged between a mage's physical body and this sanctuary and stretched as tightly as a harp string Even if the moment of death were instantaneous, making it impossible for Ma'ar to do what Falconsbane had done and make the conscious flight along the link into the sanctuary~ the release of the tension at the end linked to the living physical body would literally snap the spirit into its sanctuary~ whether or not the mage himself was even aware of what was happening to him.

    Storm Rising

  • The entrance to the Altavista sanctuary is about 25 minutes walk down the track, on either side of which are plantations of guanabana (soursop) and other fruit trees.

    Rincon de Guayabitos revisited: the major sights nearby

  • One thing we learned in 'Nam: You leave the enemy a place to retreat and get organized, what they call a sanctuary, and you cannot beat him.

    Lucifer's Hammer

  • The word 'simplify,' the word 'sanctuary,' the word 'relax.'

    chron.com Chronicle

  • 'Here you will be quite to yourselves,' said Lady Clonbrony; 'let me establish you comfortably in this, which I call my sanctuary -- my

    The Absentee

  • Note, The cleansing of the sanctuary is a happy token for good to any people; when they begin to be reformed they will soon be relieved.

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume IV (Isaiah to Malachi)

  • Note, The shining of God's face upon the desolations of the sanctuary is all in all towards the repair of it; and upon that foundation it must be rebuilt.

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume IV (Isaiah to Malachi)

  • After the Soviet conquest of Lithuania, the country was flooded with Jewish refugees from Eastern Europe who were seeking sanctuary from the Nazis.

    Three Badass Civil Servants of World War II | Heretical Ideas Magazine

  • For example, a young couple is said to have lived in the church around the plague time, seeking sanctuary from the law.

    A Conversation with Geraldine Brooks about People of the Book

  • Even though time in the kitchen has been seriously subjected to attacks from dining out in fancy restaurants, owning a perfect looking and all-equipped eating sanctuary is still a must, since you never know when that cooking mania will hit.

    Kitchen Design Inspiration from Sanidero

Comments

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  • One day recently I found a newt sheltering under a brick in my garden. The next morning the newt had gone, showing that it had been able to venture forth into freedom again. This is gratifying but does not perhaps enable me to get certification as an animal sanctuary, but merely as "nice to newts" and the garden qualified as a "niche for newts."

    April 12, 2012