- a safe or inviolable place of refuge, esp as formerly offered by the Christian Church to criminals, outlaws, etc; sanctuary (often in the phrase give asylum to)
- shelter; refuge
- refuge afforded to a person whose extradition is sought by a foreign government: political asylum
- obsolete an institution for the shelter, treatment, or confinement of individuals, esp a mental hospital (formerly termed lunatic asylum)
WordReference Random House Learner's Dictionary of American English © 2017
- Psychiatry[countable] (esp. formerly) an institution for the care esp. of the mentally ill, orphans, or the poor.
- [uncountable] protection given to a person or group, esp. political refugees.
- a place of safety or refuge: [uncountable]He sought asylum far from his native land.[countable]countries that were asylums for refugees.
- Psychiatry(esp. formerly) an institution for the maintenance and care of the mentally ill, orphans, or other persons requiring specialized assistance.
- an inviolable refuge, as formerly for criminals and debtors;
sanctuary:He sought asylum in the church.
- International Relations, Law
- a refuge granted an alien by a sovereign state on its own territory.
- a temporary refuge granted political offenders, esp. in a foreign embassy.
- any secure retreat.
- Greek ásȳlon sanctuary, equivalent. to a- a-6 + sŷlon right of seizure
- 1400–50; late Middle English;
- 2.See corresponding entry in Unabridged haven, shelter, retreat.