Definition of safety in US English:


nounPlural safeties

  • 1The condition of being protected from or unlikely to cause danger, risk, or injury.

    ‘they should leave for their own safety’
    ‘the survivors were airlifted to safety’
    • ‘There is no evidence that the plaintiff's conduct put anyone's health or safety at risk.’
    • ‘The fact is that, because of the nature of her injuries, her safety is at constant risk.’
    • ‘A union official said that health and safety conditions inside the mine are also an issue.’
    • ‘They were concerned with food safety, labor conditions, things like that.’
    • ‘Plans to cut health and safety spending risked the lives of workers across the country, said another union.’
    • ‘He defended his claims that the FDA is not protecting our health and safety.’
    • ‘Giving evidence, he told the court that he was a ‘proficient’ gunman and that he had taken steps to avoid any risk to health and safety.’
    • ‘Steinbach veterinarian Doug Bazinet said the risk from BSE to human health and food safety is very low.’
    • ‘One of the traditional roles of family has been to provide a structure of safety, protection and security for individuals who are linked by blood.’
    • ‘All employers have a moral, legal and financial incentive to do what they can to protect the health and safety of others.’
    • ‘Tonight, we'll show you how some of those imports put your health and safety at risk.’
    • ‘However, due to the potential health and safety risk it was decided to remove the trees and replace with native species at a later date in the year.’
    • ‘After the inspection, the premises were voluntarily closed for two weeks, until officers were satisfied there was no longer a risk to food safety.’
    • ‘They had no health and safety training and no risk assessments had been carried out, a jury heard.’
    • ‘Was it necessary to show an imminent danger to health or safety?’
    • ‘This is the first European-wide campaign to raise awareness about the risks to health and safety of chemicals at work.’
    • ‘Until they find more definitive evidence of the danger or safety of meat entering the food chain the public must continue to make up their own minds about what they eat.’
    • ‘There are health, safety and environmental risks associated with asbestos.’
    • ‘Risk assessments must be conducted if the work exposes employees to levels of vibration that could pose a risk to health and safety, and action must be taken.’
    • ‘The case against Sellafield usually centres upon the risk to health and safety posed by the dumping of nuclear waste into the Irish Sea.’
    welfare, well-being, protection, security
    harmlessness, lack of side effects
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1as modifier Denoting something designed to prevent injury or damage.
      ‘a safety barrier’
      ‘a safety helmet’
      • ‘Reports indicate that safety rails designed to prevent falls from the platform had been removed.’
      • ‘All models have a safety switch preventing operation when the hopper door is opened.’
      • ‘He added that he would be calling for a safety barrier to be placed at the site to prevent a potential tragedy.’
      • ‘Individual child safety seats are designed to fit children of specific heights and weights.’
      • ‘A cotter pin acts a safety measure to prevent the arm from sliding off the stub.’
      • ‘Some hot-mist vaporizers have safety latches to prevent accidental scalding.’
      • ‘But at about 5am on Sunday a safety device designed to cut the gas if the pressure gets too high malfunctioned and shut the gas off.’
      • ‘The Burley trailer is loaded with safety measures and great design features.’
      • ‘During this summer we saw a case of VG rope breaking and found a slightly damaged safety wire on that glider.’
      • ‘Since you are new to an area that is in striking distance of a hurricane, it is best for you to design a hurricane safety plan.’
      • ‘There will be a strong desire for preventive technologies and safety mechanisms even in the home.’
      • ‘Colorific markers also feature ventilated safety caps to prevent choking.’
      • ‘The ditch would need to be braced to prevent cave-in and a safety fence would need to be built around the ditch.’
      • ‘Make sure extension cords have safety closures to help prevent shock hazards and mouth burn injuries.’
      • ‘A safety notch is designed in to prevent a discharge from occurring after a sudden impact.’
      • ‘There were also damaged safety barriers and walkways.’
      • ‘Many of these fatalities and injuries could have been prevented if proper safety precautions were taken.’
      • ‘The specially designed ventilated safety cap is also easier for kids to remove and recap.’
      • ‘This type of cancer is the only tumor that can be prevented by appropriate safety measures.’
      • ‘Renault's own bold designs and investment in safety technology have clearly struck a chord with customers.’
    2. 1.2North American
      short for safety lock
      • ‘The earlier variation has a small triggerguard and generally lacks a magazine safety.’
      • ‘The main gun's normal firing circuit operates the firing mechanism of AIMTEST and all main gun safeties are operational.’
      • ‘The other parts of a Baer package are things we've come to consider standard on custom guns: checkering, sights, triggers, beavertails and safeties.’
      • ‘We strode in single file to join the creek, weapons - safeties off - leading the way.’
      • ‘It comes equipped with an automatic safety, scope rail, rifled barrel and adjustable sights.’
      • ‘On the other hand, the Glock has no external hammer, but rather features internal safeties and a mechanical safety located in the center of the trigger.’
      • ‘This subcompact pistol sports three integral safeties, nothing to snag on a purse or holster and a finish that can stand up to extreme wear and tear.’
      • ‘The SEALs disengaged the safeties on their rifles.’
      • ‘They fit regular 1911 holsters, the ambidextrous thumb safeties work the same way and the light double-action only trigger pull is excellent.’
      • ‘Like all Glocks, the G37 has three safeties: a trigger safety, firing pin safety and drop safety.’
      • ‘These pistols do not have magazine safeties, but they all incorporate internal firing pin blocks to prevent discharge if the pistol is dropped or suffers a similarly sharp blow.’
      • ‘The safeties include a firing pin block, safety notch on the hammer and the de-cock lever.’
      • ‘Joe's invention is a thumb safety for both large and small frame Glock pistols.’
      • ‘He unshipped both his assault rifle and scattergun, made sure the safeties were off, and restrained the urge to smile.’
      • ‘The tank commander swung his machine gun around, flipping off the safeties… and hesitated, the barrel pointed at the elder.’
      • ‘It can be fired single or double-action, and has an automatic safety that blocks the firing pin until the trigger is pulled.’
      • ‘The P99 has the customary passive firing pin and disconnector safeties.’
      • ‘Several of the guards, mingling among the inmates, flicked off the safeties of their own weapons in preparation of any trouble.’
      • ‘Glock fans would be tempted to compare it to the thingy that sticks out of the Glock trigger that they call a trigger safety.’
      • ‘The Magtech rifle features a cross-bolt safety mounted in the front part of the trigger guard.’
  • 2American Football
    A defensive back who normally is positioned well behind the line of scrimmage.

    • ‘Sam Games and Damien Robinson are physical safeties, not speed demons, and opponents have been able to capitalize.’
    • ‘On certain passing downs, all three safeties might take the field together.’
    • ‘QB Trent Green must recognize when the Colts' safeties creep up to the line, then look for TE Tony Gonzalez downfield.’
    • ‘Moss' presence also helps the running game because defenses often keep safeties deep to account for him.’
    • ‘The team almost certainly will take a safety with one of its first draft picks and will need to find some depth at corner in free agency.’
    • ‘Their speed will force defenses to use their safeties deeper to help the corners.’
    • ‘The play of the safeties needs to improve, particularly when the team goes to its nickel and dime packages.’
    • ‘The defensive backs, particularly the safeties, also need to tackle better.’
    1. 2.1 A play in which the offense downs the ball (by action of the defense, or intentionally) in their own end zone, scoring two points for the defense.
      • ‘Asi Faoa blocked the ensuing punt in the end zone for a UCLA safety.’
      • ‘Even their fourth linebacker, Rocky Boiman, has an interception return for a touchdown and a safety.’
      • ‘If she has played a safety on her trouble ball, she would have won.’
      • ‘All they need to do is to put the ball at the back of the net and their safety will be secured.’
  • 3US informal A condom.


  • safety first

    • Used to advise caution.

      • ‘While they have not criticised the actions of the woman in fending off the attacker, police advise the public to always think about safety first.’
      • ‘But it should also be clear that there are structural limits to flight safety, and that any dream of a zero-accident future is probably about as realistic as the old ValuJet promise to put safety first.’
      • ‘We all need to commit to putting safety first every time we drive.’
      • ‘The postmaster and the member of the public were not 100 per cent sure if he had a gun or not, but we had to put people's safety first.’
      • ‘If he decides to go ahead and contact her, he needs to think about her safety first.’
      • ‘The Government must listen, and put safety first by refusing to allow GM crops to be commercially grown in Britain.’
      • ‘Londesbrough Park had by far the better of a draw against a cautious Sheriff Hutton Bridge side who opted for safety first.’
      • ‘The best assistance we can give our emergency services personnel is to put our own safety first every time.’
      • ‘It'd been a big moment, he agreed, the culmination of two years’ practise on frozen lakes, but he would never do better if he kept thinking about safety first.’
      • ‘It's time for mothers to slow down and put safety first.’
  • there's safety in numbers

    • proverb Being in a group of people makes you feel more confident or secure about taking action.

      • ‘As ritual has it, dozens of fearless souls - knowing that there's safety in numbers - overcome their jittery apprehensions and descend to the place where Gallagher was murdered.’
      • ‘In your situation, I'd say there's safety in numbers.’
      • ‘As touring acts have demonstrated of late, there's safety in numbers.’
      • ‘Gee, if the Iraqis have figured out there's safety in numbers, security may turn out to be a problem…’
      • ‘They say there's safety in numbers, but that could be a major disaster.’
      • ‘But there's safety in numbers, so thank goodness for lamb roasts, for friends that become family and entire families that become friends, for paper plates sturdy enough to stand up to a table's worth of sweets.’
      • ‘Remember, there's safety in numbers - keep sight of the man beside you.’
      • ‘As one fund manager said: ‘You've got to remember there's safety in numbers.’’
      • ‘They say there's safety in numbers, so they all kinda clump together.’
      • ‘While there's safety in numbers, tech managers don't get paid big bucks to think like the herd.’


Middle English: from Old French sauvete, from medieval Latin salvitas, from Latin salvus ‘safe’.