1. protected or shielded from storms, missiles, etc., by a wall, roof, barrier, or the like.
  2. protected from the troubles, annoyances, sordidness, etc., encountered in competitive situations: a sheltered life.
  3. (of a business or industry) enjoying noncompetitive conditions, as because of a protective tariff.
  4. of or relating to employment or housing, especially for persons with disabilities, in a noncompetitive, supervised environment.


  1. something beneath, behind, or within which a person, animal, or thing is protected from storms, missiles, adverse conditions, etc.; refuge.
  2. the protection or refuge afforded by such a thing: He took shelter in a nearby barn.
  3. protection from blame, incrimination, etc.
  4. a dwelling place or home considered as a refuge from the elements: Everyone’s basic needs are food, clothing, and shelter.
  5. a building serving as a temporary refuge or residence for homeless persons, abandoned animals, etc.
  6. Finance. tax shelter.

verb (used with object)

  1. to be a shelter for; afford shelter to: The old barn sheltered him from the rain.
  2. to provide with a shelter; place under cover.
  3. to protect, as by shelter; take under one’s protection: Parents should not try to shelter their children from normal childhood disappointments.
  4. Finance. to invest (money) in a tax shelter.

verb (used without object)

  1. to take shelter; find a refuge: He sheltered in a barn.
  2. Finance. to invest money in a tax shelterd.


  1. protected from wind or weathera sheltered garden
  2. protected from outside influencesa sheltered upbringing
  3. (of buildings) specially designed to provide a safe environment for the elderly, handicapped, or disabledsheltered workshops for the blind See also sheltered housing


  1. something that provides cover or protection, as from weather or danger; place of refuge
  2. the protection afforded by such a cover; refuge
  3. the state of being sheltered


  1. (tr) to provide with or protect by a shelter
  2. (intr) to take cover, as from rain; find refuge
  3. (tr) to act as a shelter for; take under one’s protection

adj.“screened, protected,” 1590s, past participle adjective from shelter (v.). Meaning “protected from the usual hardships of life” is from 1888. Related: Shelteredness. n.1580s, “structure affording protection,” possibly an alteration of Middle English sheltron, sheldtrume “roof or wall formed by locked shields,” from Old English scyldtruma, from scield “shield” (see shield (n.)) + truma “troop,” related to Old English trum “firm, strong” (see trim). If so, the original notion is of a compact body of men protected by interlocking shields. OED finds this “untenable” and proposed derivation from shield + -ture. Figurative sense is recorded from 1580s; meaning “temporary lodging for homeless poor” is first recorded 1890 in Salvation Army jargon; sense of “temporary home for animals” is from 1971. Related: Shelterless. v.1580s, “to screen, protect,” from shelter (n.); in the income investment sense, from 1955. Meaning “to take shelter” is from c.1600. Related: Sheltered; sheltering.

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