adjective, saf·er, saf·est.

  1. secure from liability to harm, injury, danger, or risk: a safe place.
  2. free from hurt, injury, danger, or risk: to arrive safe and sound.
  3. involving little or no risk of mishap, error, etc.: a safe estimate.
  4. dependable or trustworthy: a safe guide.
  5. careful to avoid danger or controversy: a safe player; a safe play.
  6. denied the chance to do harm; in secure custody: a criminal safe in jail.
  7. Baseball.
    1. reaching base without being put out: safe on the throw to first base.
    2. making it possible to reach a base: a safe slide.


  1. Informal. in a safe manner; safely: Learn how to drive safe.See Grammar note at adverb.


  1. a steel or iron box or repository for money, jewels, papers, etc.
  2. any receptacle or structure for the storage or preservation of articles: a meat safe.
  3. (in plumbing)
    1. a pan for catching leakage.
    2. template(def 7).
  4. Slang. a condom.


  1. play it safe, play(def 85).


  1. affording security or protection from harma safe place
  2. (postpositive) free from dangeryou’ll be safe here
  3. secure from risk; certain; sounda safe investment; a safe bet
  4. worthy of trust; prudenta safe companion
  5. tending to avoid controversy or riska safe player
  6. unable to do harm; not dangerousa criminal safe behind bars; water safe to drink
  7. British informal excellent
  8. on the safe side as a precaution


  1. in a safe conditionthe children are safe in bed now
  2. play safe to act in a way least likely to cause danger, controversy, or defeat


  1. a strong container, usually of metal and provided with a secure lock, for storing money or valuables
  2. a small ventilated cupboard-like container for storing food
  3. US and Canadian a slang word for condom

adj.c.1300, “unscathed, unhurt, uninjured; free from danger or molestation, in safety, secure; saved spiritually, redeemed, not damned;” from Old French sauf “protected, watched-over; assured of salvation,” from Latin salvus “uninjured, in good health, safe,” related to salus “good health,” saluber “healthful,” all from PIE *solwos from root *sol- “whole” (cf. Latin solidus “solid,” Sanskrit sarvah “uninjured, intact, whole,” Avestan haurva- “uninjured, intact,” Old Persian haruva-, Greek holos “whole”). As a quasi-preposition from c.1300, on model of French and Latin cognates. From late 14c. as “rescued, delivered; protected; left alive, unkilled.” Meaning “not exposed to danger” (of places) is attested from late 14c.; of actions, etc., “free from risk,” first recorded 1580s. Meaning “sure, reliable, not a danger” is from c.1600. Sense of “conservative, cautious” is from 1823. Paired alliteratively with sound (adj.) from late 14c. The noun safe-conduct (late 13c.) is from Old French sauf-conduit (13c.). n.“chest for keeping food or valuables,” early 15c., save, from Middle French en sauf “in safety,” from sauf (see safe (adj.)). Spelling with -f- first recorded 1680s, from influence of safe (adj.). In addition to the idioms beginning with safe

  • safe and sound
  • safe as houses
  • also see:

  • better safe than sorry
  • on the safe side
  • play it safe
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