Definition of sanctum in US English:


nounPlural sanctums

  • 1A sacred place, especially a shrine within a temple or church.

    • ‘Its easier to work with technology these days than it is to find obscure herbs and ingredients, to get proper working tools for the old pagan religions, or to construct proper sanctums for ritual use.’
    • ‘Thus the upper part of the sanctum assumes a pyramidal shape, which when built would have been at least 40 feet (unfortunately, not much of the temple survives).’
    • ‘Harmful energy lines include water arteries, underground movements and ore and coal repositories, while ‘power zones’ occur predominately around old churches and pagan sanctums.’
    • ‘The statue of the goddess in the sanctum was small and was heavily garlanded with bells and gold borders - offerings made to the goddess for boons granted.’
    • ‘The result is that many Smarta priests are entering the temple sanctums.’
    • ‘He took me to the sanctum of the whole church, where the chapel was and I stared at the bright rosaries and the flowered stained windows.’
    • ‘Idols of Rama, Sita and Lakshmana are worshipped in the main sanctum, which remains still neat and simple and unencumbered by temple paraphernalia.’
    • ‘The temple's eastern face could be the traditional entry for the Hindu devotee into the sanctum, and the west designed to enable Muslims to pray facing Mecca.’
    • ‘When the nayika has decided on dedicating her life to Tyagesa, the squares and circles are too elaborate and she seeks a diagonal route straight to the deity in the sanctum.’
    • ‘One goat is then sacrificed and its blood sprinkled in the Tabernacle's innermost sanctum, the Holy of Holies.’
    • ‘However, in all but the most basic temples, other elements are present, at least a porch, and often an antechamber or antarala, a hall or mandapa, a dwajasthamba or a flag-mast, usually a pillar fixed outside the main shrine in the sanctum.’
    • ‘The visual stimulation of this wall of images finds a serene counterpart in a small room opening to the right, re-creating the devotional sanctum of a Mouride holy man.’
    holy place, shrine, sanctuary, altar, inner sanctum, holy of holies
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  • 2A private place from which most people are excluded.

    • ‘The NIST chief has to maintain strict operational security and avoid passing any operational details to the Pentagon or other Washington sanctums.’
    • ‘Where mysteries took readers into the police stations and P.I. offices and onto the streets where messes are cleaned up, the legal thriller takes us into the sanctums where judges and lawyers make those messes.’
    • ‘Practically the entire spadework for the organization had already been done within the sanctums of the U.S. Treasury Department.’
    • ‘The invitation had one condition: no conversation within the sanctum was to be directly reported.’
    • ‘Swallowing, she determined the noise had come from the deeper sanctums of the library.’
    refuge, retreat, bolt-hole, foxhole, hideout, hiding place, hideaway, study, den
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Late 16th century: from Latin, neuter of sanctus ‘holy’, from sancire ‘consecrate’.