Definition of shelter in US English:



  • 1A place giving temporary protection from bad weather or danger.

    • ‘I don't want him to perfect our temporary shelters.’
    • ‘Altogether, Anandi helped construct 700 temporary shelters in 10 villages in Maliya block before the rains.’
    • ‘It's an amalgamation of makeshift shelters and temporary wooden structures, and it's populated by folks who cannot find affordable housing.’
    • ‘Over 861,000 survivors are living in 781 temporary shelters.’
    • ‘Young and/or single mothers will be hosted in temporary shelters.’
    • ‘Generally employed too far from their villages to be able to reach home in the evening, the women had built temporary huts, leaky shelters of branches and reeds.’
    • ‘We need up to 45,000 more winterised tents and temporary shelters.’
    • ‘Last week, Cork Simon Community, in conjunction with St Vincent de Paul, opened a temporary cold weather shelter in the city.’
    • ‘U.N. teams have set up temporary shelters, this one in a local school.’
    • ‘A year after the earthquake that devastated Gujarat, local people still live in tents or temporary shelters.’
    • ‘According to Ministry of Health data, as of Friday, 15,019 flood victims were staying in temporary shelters in the capital.’
    • ‘Jenny was concerned that the illnesses could spread further to other areas if sanitation at temporary shelters was not improved or possibly deteriorated during the rainy season.’
    • ‘The victims now live in temporary shelters - makeshift tents on the street in front of Manggarai railway station.’
    • ‘The resources are being used for the repairs of 8km of road and the reconstruction of bridges, temporary shelters and irrigation systems.’
    • ‘A year later, four out of five of the two million people displaced are still living in tents, temporary shelters or piled in with family and friends across the region.’
    • ‘Because the glacier moves a few inches a day, Gyalzen will build a temporary shelter with stone walls and use a tent for cover.’
    • ‘One of their projects was to tidy up the area where once stood an air-raid shelter and brick shed, the removal of which would have cost about £1,000 to be done privately.’
    • ‘Today, yurts are only used as temporary shelters by shepherds in remote, seasonal pastures.’
    • ‘But hundreds of survivors do still live in temporary shelters where they expect to remain for many more months.’
    • ‘But she also said that Michael and her American home were only temporary shelters because her real world is the home that she built with her husband in Hong Kong.’
    1. 1.1 A place providing food and accommodations for the homeless.
      • ‘Not long ago the community-service committee conducted a food drive for Boston's homeless shelters.’
      • ‘In between her job, she volunteered at homeless shelters and organized several food drives.’
      • ‘VIP participants have volunteered at a homeless shelter, a food bank or the Red Cross.’
      • ‘The homeless are streaming into shelters like this one where I am.’
      • ‘Many young people will give part of their holiday to volunteer at homeless shelters and food pantries.’
      • ‘Sending them to shelters for the homeless is a last resort.’
      • ‘But the couple doesn't give to homeless shelters and food banks, saying the poor should raise themselves out of poverty.’
      • ‘Claudia was sweet, volunteering at homeless shelters during big holidays, serving food to the poor.’
      • ‘The youth also cleaned and labeled cans at a food bank, sorted donated clothes at a homeless shelter and worked with a farmer who sold produce in the church's parking lot.’
      • ‘Sonia returns home after delivering a child to find that Bruno has sublet their apartment, forcing the trio into homeless shelters.’
      • ‘Those things were reserved for organizations that had been approved by the food bank, mainly homeless shelters and senior centers.’
      • ‘With homeless shelters already at over-capacity, organizers are demanding extra spaces to get people off the streets this winter.’
      • ‘Charity groups which offer food and shelters for the homeless are expecting an increase in families asking for help.’
      • ‘I suppose I should make my apartment a homeless shelter?’
      • ‘Unless we work for justice through social change, the need at food banks, homeless shelters, and low-income medical clinics will only increase.’
      • ‘Today senior governments limit their social housing to funding shelters for homeless people.’
      • ‘We have to think in terms of creating large shelters where the homeless can live in relative comfort, do whatever work they are physically capable of and feel no need to go back to the streets.’
      • ‘Later he was an energy trader for Goldman Sachs, he delivered food to homeless shelters, and he helped a friend promote his new restaurant.’
      • ‘There is never a visit to the soup kitchens or the homeless shelters where the down-and-out Irish will spend St. Patrick's Night.’
      • ‘She wants to help organize the food drive for the homeless shelter.’
    2. 1.2 An animal sanctuary.
      • ‘People who find a poor critter are encouraged to take them to their local shelter or animal control facility so owners can be reunited with their pets.’
      • ‘All around you are animal shelters, soup kitchens and nursing homes that need your help.’
      • ‘Over a period of a week, the rabbits were taken from the home and checked over by vets before being taken to various animal shelters for rehoming.’
      • ‘The target agencies proposed for using animals as resources are the organizations that train and place animals for therapy or service and animal shelters.’
      • ‘I've always had good luck adopting animals from shelters.’
      • ‘Men were primarily responsible for herding animals, hunting, slaughtering animals, and maintaining animal shelters.’
      • ‘Many animal shelters need volunteers to walk their dogs.’
      • ‘Or they find an animal shelter and leave the dog or cat there amongst hundreds of suffering diseased animals.’
      • ‘Often, veterinarians and local animal shelters can put you in contact with therapy dog groups.’
      • ‘Some of these were dwellings but others were probably stores or animal shelters.’
      • ‘Animal shelters provide a valuable service to the community that they serve by keeping the streets as free of stray animals as possible.’
      • ‘Volunteer at an animal shelter or library, start a club with your friends, raise money for the poor.’
      • ‘With all the animals in shelters waiting to be adopted with some to be euthenized, you should really consider adopting.’
      • ‘He was an abused dog that Stan rescued from an animal shelter.’
      • ‘Between 6 million and 8 million dogs and cats enter animal shelters across the United States each year.’
      • ‘Overcrowded animal shelters even call Stephanie for help.’
      • ‘The week after she died, we received a phone call to transport the animals to the shelter.’
      • ‘In no time flat the available walls were full of public notices, goods and services for sale, community event posters and news from the animal shelter.’
      • ‘Even the Red Cross, which has never allowed animals in its shelters due to health and sanitation concerns, is changing its policies.’
      • ‘If money isn't an issue, then another option is to volunteer at places like hospitals/health care facilities and animal shelters.’
      sanctuary, place of shelter, refuge, accommodation, housing, home, place of safety, haven, safe haven, sanctum, safe house
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    3. 1.3 A shielded or safe condition; protection.
      ‘he hung back in the shelter of a rock’
      ‘you're welcome to take shelter from the storm’
      • ‘Should one develop overhead take shelter until it dissipates.’
      • ‘We are sitting in the shelter of a temporary marquee - or mock Bedouin tent - with the sandy expanse of the desert around us.’
      • ‘It only seems a matter of time before Bob and Charlotte cross paths and take shelter in each other's company.’
      • ‘He said that people living in the high-risk areas should be forewarned about natural disasters so that they could evacuate their homes and take shelter well in time.’
      • ‘Then we'd take shelter under the cover of his porch and watch it rain and Deca would come in when we were almost dry and hug us so we'd be wet again.’
      • ‘With many hundreds of school buses available, the city chose to provide safe shelter for those who did not or could not leave town in the Super Dome.’
      • ‘Two Canadian Geese land, honking, and take shelter under a willow tree whose tendrils flick at the water with the breeze.’
      • ‘But at least while they learn to adjust to it they can be provided safe shelter and friendship.’
      • ‘Far too frequently their proponents take shelter behind a sort of eclectic individualism.’
      • ‘Another 1.3 percent fell into the category of dilapidated units, defined as failing to provide safe and adequate shelter.’
      • ‘The site claims, in the event of a detonation, you should take shelter, gain distance and minimize your exposure time.’
      • ‘My parents asked me to take shelter somewhere else for a day.’
      • ‘There are also trees and shrubs where mosquitoes take shelter and they should be regularly sprayed with insecticides.’
      • ‘They can also take shelter here if there is a sudden downpour.’
      • ‘As we waited out the weather under the shelter of the porch roof he began talking.’
      • ‘Due to adverse weather conditions the ship may take shelter in ports in Spain, Portugal or Madeira on her journey to Tenerife, according to a spokesperson for the company.’
      • ‘Police cars drove at speed through the streets, their loudspeakers ordering pedestrians to take shelter or hide under cover of tall buildings.’
      • ‘Do not mow weedy sites or dismantle woodpiles, which provide them safe shelter in the off-season.’
      • ‘He ran to a neighbour's home to take shelter in a crawl space.’
      • ‘Even strays take shelter from the enervating heat.’
      protection, shield, cover, a roof, screen, shade
      View synonyms


[with object]
  • 1Protect or shield from something harmful, especially bad weather.

    ‘the hut sheltered him from the cold wind’
    • ‘The soil is particularly rich and is mostly sheltered from the worst weather.’
    • ‘Lying alone in a tiny cavern barely large enough to shelter one person, I listen as the wind rustles through the grasses and the rain pelts the sandy soil.’
    • ‘The people we love, the home that shelters us, the keepsakes that trigger memories.’
    • ‘The household ended up sheltering him throughout the troubles and he has remained a close friend of the family ever since, still bringing cheese, milk and eggs on visits to their house.’
    • ‘Mothers were sheltering their babies in their laps under umbrellas.’
    • ‘How many camps have been set up to try to shelter people?’
    • ‘We will guard the portals between these two realms, and we will shelter your people if they return.’
    • ‘Pick a spot that is sheltered from strong winds and gets at least 6 hours of sun a day.’
    • ‘But the night he read that his father had been sentenced to death, he confessed his true identity to the farmer sheltering him.’
    • ‘More than 500 people were sheltered in the Center following the riots.’
    • ‘You had nothing to gain sheltering us three and you paid for it so dearly.’
    • ‘On a hill in the city, there is a grove people believe shelters a god, but they don't know which one.’
    • ‘Meanwhile, even Greensboro is sheltering people who have managed to evacuate.’
    • ‘It seemed the current baron had more important charges on his purse than sheltering his people against attack.’
    • ‘If it was the aim to demonstrate how groups or states sheltering terrorists are punished and isolated by the international community, those efforts have not been successful either.’
    • ‘They bring food for a few hundred people to a place where thousands of people are sheltered.’
    • ‘The hedge sheltered toads, frogs and voles and the birds were going berserk.’
    • ‘Try to shelter families who had lost their homes.’
    • ‘It's been overwintering in the sun room, but now that it has a larger pot I think I will put it in a relatively sheltered spot outside.’
    • ‘The wall is paved by bricks and filled with earth, and during war time it served to shelter people in the town from disaster.’
    protect, keep safe, shield, cover, screen, shade, keep from harm, afford protection to, provide protection for, save, safeguard, wrap, cover for, preserve, conserve, defend, cushion, secure, guard, hedge
    protected, screened, shielded, covered, calm
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1no object, with adverbial of place Find refuge or take cover from bad weather or danger.
      ‘people were sheltering under store canopies and trees’
      • ‘A central exploration of these situations has been the creation of nomadic habitations, which are designed to be worn, slept, stored and sheltered in.’
      • ‘The vessel was still sheltering from the adverse weather on Wednesday.’
      • ‘The people at the MCA, on the other hand, come in to shelter from the weather or when the guys who juggle kittens and chain saws take a break.’
      • ‘You dug up the heart of the mystery of the world, I think, salvaging the last green remnants sheltering in the shadow of my grave.’
      • ‘The refugees first sheltered in the caves that riddle the steep limestone hill, later building houses around them.’
      • ‘Missionaries have warned of the danger of epidemics as the island's inhabitants are still sheltering in caves and have very little food, fresh water or medical supplies.’
      • ‘There, sheltering in huts of twigs and leaves covered by plastic sheeting, 90,000 people are crammed into the camp.’
      • ‘The shops on the riverside suddenly seemed a dangerous place to shelter from the deluge, which had started with a cloudburst about 3 pm on Monday afternoon.’
      • ‘He had considered sheltering behind a building and waiting for the danger to pass but he decided not to.’
      • ‘During a shower of rain I shelter under a canopy.’
      • ‘Miri and the girls had to cover their faces to shelter from the heat.’
      • ‘There was one cafe under the arches where you could go and shelter from the weather.’
      • ‘There were shoals of grunt and goatfish sheltering in the shadow of our boat.’
      • ‘Waterford is also an effective port of refuge for Irish and foreign trawlers to shelter from bad weather, which I saw for myself when in the port.’
      • ‘She and her four children are sheltering under sticks covered with cloth.’
      • ‘There are eight hides - four with wheelchair access - all with fantastic views and a good place to shelter if the weather gets bad.’
      • ‘There is nothing like the instant gratification of jumping in to find, as the bubbles clear, that a gargantuan whale shark is sheltering in the shadow of your boat, or a posse of eagle rays is gliding by.’
      • ‘Providing you can catch the driver's attention, you can shelter from the weather on the other side of the road.’
      • ‘In 1983 rampaging mobs forced us to shelter in a refugee camp.’
      • ‘Over the last few days, the governments have promised to co-operate and hand over any suspects sheltering within their borders.’
      take shelter, take refuge, seek protection, seek refuge, seek sanctuary, take cover
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    2. 1.2 Prevent (someone) from having to do or face something difficult or unpleasant.
      • ‘While there are many practical problems involved in sheltering people from a different culture, we also know the rewards that would flow.’
      • ‘Unfortunately, the vast majority of South Asian parents are unable to see it from this perspective and spend a great deal of time and energy sheltering their children, telling them who they can and cannot be with.’
      • ‘No evidence has emerged of any coordinated network sheltering these people, and all charity and aid organisations are careful to deny supporting such efforts.’
      • ‘What they were actually doing was sheltering him from reality.’
      • ‘But I think in Australia at the time, people were sheltered from that view, and hadn't evolved particularly.’
      • ‘The people also have a right to know about the people sheltering a wanted person.’
      • ‘My dad sheltered me from all that; he hid any trouble from me and coming home was a retreat from the black world of the B52s into a safe blanket-lined den.’
      • ‘This, coupled with leading an isolated and sheltered life, had made it difficult for him to form personal relationships.’
      • ‘Maybe some parents should spend less time sheltering their kids from sex and nudity and more time teaching kids to be nicer individuals.’
      • ‘She would shelter me from all the things that media people would write about her, some of which was totally untrue.’
      • ‘Even if you are sheltered from the demonstrations, read the British newspapers - the whole raucous range of them.’
      • ‘And in the early days of ‘Europe’, this collection of awarenesses sheltered me from the new cause.’
      • ‘Give your public more credit and stop sheltering us from that ooh-so-wicked world.’
      • ‘You're too young to understand and you're sheltered from it until you're put on the front lines and you realise that you're surrounded on all sides by people who hate you.’
      • ‘Your point about not sheltering kids makes sense, provided you are talking about kids of a certain age.’
      secluded, withdrawn, isolated, protected, immune, cloistered, unworldly, sequestered, retired, reclusive
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    3. 1.3 Protect (income) from taxation.
      ‘only your rental income can be sheltered’
      • ‘That the corporate tax serves as a backstop against sheltering income is probably the strongest reason today for keeping the tax.’
      • ‘So, assuming that you do have rental income to shelter, how can you go about choosing an investment property that will work for you?’
      • ‘Wealthy families who use trusts to shelter assets from tax will have to give more to the taxman.’
      • ‘Non-exempt letting income can be sheltered by purchasing a rental property in a renewal incentive area.’
      • ‘Rental income in France is taxable, but can be substantially sheltered by the cost of borrowing.’
      • ‘The director can shelter the income by maximising his employee pension contributions to the 15% limit of his gross salary.’
      • ‘Over time, this would shelter most investment income from taxation, leaving taxes mainly on wage-and-salary income.’
      • ‘Real estate tax breaks may shelter that income and perhaps even provide a paper loss to offset other gains.’
      • ‘Leaving property to a UK-domiciled spouse can shelter it from inheritance tax.’
      • ‘If you sell the house at the end of the period, the profits are sheltered from taxes, but the stocks are subject to capital gains taxes.’
      • ‘The real issue is whether such a transaction should be sheltered from taxation.’
      • ‘However, there is bad news for wealthy families who use trusts to shelter assets from tax.’
      • ‘Limited partnerships are structured as corporations, so your liability is limited, but you can't use losses to shelter income.’
      • ‘While the housing allowance is an excellent tax benefit, it only shelters income tax, not social security tax.’
      • ‘The first of these follows the effect of high tax rates on the incentive to generate taxable income or to shelter income by legitimate means - tax avoidance.’
      • ‘The taxpayer is exempt from late-payment penalties or fines for having sheltered income by moving cash out of the country.’
      • ‘If this is taken as given, then it becomes more attractive to extract income in a form that can be easily sheltered.’
      • ‘Such losses cannot be used to shelter non-rental income, which would include any capital gain that you may make on the sale of this apartment.’
      • ‘After that, you can decide how much you're willing to commit to each and whether you want to shelter your income and gains from the taxman.’
      • ‘Smart lawyers sheltered the family fortune so well that it still showers funds on successive generations.’


Late 16th century: perhaps an alteration of sheld, an old spelling of shield, + -ure.