from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Something, especially a structure, that provides cover or protection, as from the weather.
  • noun An establishment that provides temporary housing for homeless people.
  • noun An establishment that cares for unwanted or stray animals and tries to find owners for them.
  • noun The state of being covered or protected.
  • intransitive verb To provide cover or protection for.
  • intransitive verb To invest (income) to protect it from taxation.
  • intransitive verb To take cover; find refuge.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A cover or defense from exposure, attack, injury, distress, annoyance, or the like; whatever shields or serves as a protection, as from the weather, attack, etc.; a place of protection: as, a shelter from the rain or wind; a shelter for the friendless.
  • noun The protection or immunity from attack, exposure, distress, etc., afforded by a place or thing; refuge; asylum.
  • noun Synonyms Screen, shield.
  • noun Cover, covert, sanctuary, haven. See the verb.
  • To protect from exposure, attack, injury, distress, or the like; afford cover or protection to; hence, to harbor: as, to shelter thieves.
  • To place under cover or shelter; seek shelter or protection for; house; with a reflexive pronoun, to take refuge; betake one's self to cover or a safe place.
  • Synonyms To Defend, Protect, etc. (see keep), shield, screen, shroud, house, ensconce, hide.
  • To take shelter.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • intransitive verb To take shelter.
  • noun That which covers or defends from injury or annoyance; a protection; a screen.
  • noun One who protects; a guardian; a defender.
  • noun The state of being covered and protected; protection; security.
  • noun a small tent made of pieces of cotton duck arranged to button together. In field service the soldiers carry the pieces.
  • transitive verb To be a shelter for; to provide with a shelter; to cover from injury or annoyance; to shield; to protect.
  • transitive verb To screen or cover from notice; to disguise.
  • transitive verb To betake to cover, or to a safe place; -- used reflexively.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A refuge, haven or other cover or protection from something
  • noun An institution that provides temporary housing for homeless people, battered women etc
  • verb transitive To provide cover
  • verb intransitive To take cover

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

  • noun temporary housing for homeless or displaced persons
  • verb invest (money) so that it is not taxable
  • noun protective covering that provides protection from the weather
  • noun a structure that provides privacy and protection from danger
  • verb provide shelter for
  • noun the condition of being protected
  • noun a way of organizing business to reduce the taxes it must pay on current earnings


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

[Perhaps from Middle English sheltron, tight battle formation, from Old English scildtruma : scield, shield; see shield + truma, troop; see deru- in Indo-European roots.]


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word shelter.



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.