Definition of refuge in English:



  • 1[mass noun] The state of being safe or sheltered from pursuit, danger, or difficulty.

    ‘he was forced to take refuge in the French embassy’
    ‘I sought refuge in drink’
    • ‘Angola is relatively urbanized because in the 1980s many people sought refuge in the safer urban areas.’
    • ‘However, the cunning female kept dodging them, taking temporary refuge in the grounds of Fermoy Soccer Club.’
    • ‘Thousands of people have sought refuge in army bases and police stations.’
    • ‘But one most often sought refuge in sanctuaries.’
    • ‘Since then, half the country's more than 3 million people have sought refuge in the capital, Monrovia.’
    • ‘The deportation of an asylum seeker who sought refuge in Bolton has been halted following the intervention of MP David Crausby.’
    • ‘This was not difficult, given that less than 15 per cent of people sought refuge in public shelters or tube stations.’
    • ‘He was given refuge in Libya by his long time ally, Colonel Gaddafi.’
    • ‘Smoke could be seen billowing from many parts of the city where thousands of Madurese have sought refuge in military compounds and government offices.’
    • ‘International law says that seeking refuge from persecution is not a crime.’
    • ‘However, most of the residents preferred to stay home instead of taking refuge elsewhere.’
    • ‘He said he accepted she was one of life's inadequates who sought refuge in drink and was prone to self-harm.’
    • ‘Needless to say, I sought refuge in a discussion of the weather.’
    • ‘But the Convention only provides refuge from state persecution.’
    • ‘We are only travellers taking temporary refuge in this life and body.’
    • ‘That was probably why he was often haunted by spells of melancholia and dark thoughts and often sought refuge in books.’
    • ‘They have simply sought refuge from persecution: they are refugees.’
    • ‘While the rest of us were toiling in Pattaya, a small group sought refuge in the mountain retreat of Soi Dao.’
    • ‘More than 30,000 people are reported to have died and nearly 400,000 civilians sought refuge across the border in Ethiopia.’
    haven, safe haven, shelter, sanctuary, retreat, asylum, place of safety, place of security, port in a storm, oasis, sanctum
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1[count noun]A place or situation providing safety or shelter.
      ‘the family came to be seen as a refuge from a harsh world’
      • ‘Well, the Senate today narrowly approved a plan to drill for oil in Alaska's arctic national wildlife refuge.’
      • ‘Absolute moral standards provide a safe refuge for those frightened to exercise discretion.’
      • ‘There was kind of a coup, and he took temporary refuge in the United States.’
      • ‘In the novel, a young housemaid named Griet innocently entrances Vermeer who comes to see her as a sacred refuge from a soulless marriage.’
      • ‘I led the fight to stop the drilling in the Arctic wildlife refuge.’
      • ‘To learn more about Banerjee and his time in the Arctic refuge, click here.’
      • ‘Does Eden offer a refuge from the world or the wisdom to accept it?’
      • ‘After all, home and family should provide a refuge from the clamor of the outside world.’
      • ‘' Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel ', pronounced Samuel Johnson in 1775.’
      • ‘Instead she buried herself in the library, which became a refuge from the decadent student world.’
      • ‘But this bar is a great refuge from the madness of weekend London.’
      • ‘For many of these young MPs the canteen is proving a refuge from the long-drawn speeches and verbal duels in the House.’
      • ‘In the late 15th century, the city became a refuge for Iberian Jews expelled by Phillip II from Spain.’
      • ‘Researchers found that the forest offered a refuge for bee species, which helped pollinate coffee plants.’
      • ‘In my younger and more vulnerable years, I believed school offered a gentle refuge from the cutthroat savagery of the working world.’
      • ‘For hundreds of years Turkey was a refuge for Jews driven from " civilised " Christian Europe.’
      • ‘Mothers were torn between their need to support the discipline of their sons and their desire to provide a refuge from the harshness of that discipline.’
      • ‘Churches have become the only refuge for people who have lost everything.’
      • ‘Upland's owners bought and renovated the hotel three years ago, as a refuge from a high-powered life in the capital city.’
      • ‘The pine-shaded forest is a refuge from the city's extreme summer temperatures.’
      shelter, protection, safety, security, asylum, sanctuary
      sanctuary, place of shelter, shelter, place of safety, haven, safe haven, sanctum, safe house, harbour, port in a storm, ark
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2[count noun]An institution providing safe accommodation for women who have suffered violence from a spouse or partner.
      • ‘She said its aims were to encourage more women to report violent incidents in the home and to reverse the trend whereby women and children had little option but to flee to refuges and temporary accommodation.’
      • ‘Thus, women's refuges were among the first projects to have been realised.’
      • ‘Through our social centres, soup runs, hostels, refuges, detox centres, community cafes, day care and residential homes, we get through a lot of tea and coffee.’
      • ‘For many years Bendigo-based Julie Oberin was Chair of the Women's Services Network, the peak body for women's domestic violence services, including refuges.’
      • ‘Children at the York women's refuge were facing a bleak Christmas.’
      • ‘Given the prevalence of domestic violence, women's refuges are essential facilities.’
      • ‘Women are flocking to refuges and violent partners are moving back into the family home following the outlawing of temporary barring orders, according to women's aid groups.’
      • ‘There is also a network of refuges, in every county except Carlow, some transitional accommodation in Waterford and some limited outreach and settlement support services.’
      • ‘And if their ‘crime’ was to donate 4,000 pairs of footwear to the workhouses, women's refuges and orphanages of war-torn Kosovo, then it was guilty as charged.’
      • ‘Women's refuges, local hospices and day centres are also members of the Scrapstore.’
      • ‘She moved in with Young as a teenager and the couple had three children, but she fled to a woman's refuge after suffering violent beatings.’
      • ‘She appealed to the government to raise the profile of refuges for victims of violence and helplines.’
      • ‘While police and magistrates take punitive action to try to stop physical assaults, and refuges provide a safe haven for women and children trying to escape violence, curing such violence is not easy.’
      • ‘I was involved in a single-issue campaign - domestic violence and women's refuges - but that didn't mean that I thought politics was about single issues.’
      • ‘The issue of domestic violence and the absence of a refuge for women who want to escape abusive partners in Sligo was raised.’
      • ‘In investigating domestic violence, it is tempting for academics to speak to only those more easily accessible women who are resident in refuges, rather than other victims.’
      • ‘The Family Law Act 1996 protects victims of domestic violence and their children, and there are safe refuges and on-going support for families getting away from violent situations.’
      • ‘Over time, physical conditions in the East Anglian refuges have improved and accommodation is no longer squalid and over-crowded.’
      • ‘He said there are only five emergency hostels and refuges in Dublin providing a total of 50 units for families.’
    3. 1.3British [count noun]A traffic island.
      • ‘‘There are likely to be central pedestrian refuges up to 1.8 metres wide,’ said planning officer Sian Watson.’
      • ‘There, roads are generally free of cycle lanes, red or green painted patches, pedestrian refuges, traffic islands, widened pavements for cycle use and silly speed limits.’
      • ‘Raised medians at the centre of the carriageway could also serve as pedestrian refuges.’
      • ‘This will be impossible if there is a pedestrian refuge in the middle of the road.’
      • ‘Traffic calming proposals included the creation of a central refuge at the west end of the village to help elderly people cross the road.’
      • ‘What we are looking at is either traffic lights or possibly a roundabout, because a traffic island and refuge would only benefit car users and not public transport.’


Late Middle English: from Old French, from Latin refugium, from Latin re- back + fugere flee.