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[seyf] /seɪf/
adjective, safer, safest.
secure from liability to harm, injury, danger, or risk:
a safe place.
free from hurt, injury, danger, or risk:
to arrive safe and sound.
involving little or no risk of mishap, error, etc.:
a safe estimate.
dependable or trustworthy:
a safe guide.
careful to avoid danger or controversy:
a safe player; a safe play.
denied the chance to do harm; in secure custody:
a criminal safe in jail.
  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.
Informal. in a safe manner; safely:
Learn how to drive safe.
See Grammar note at adverb.
a steel or iron box or repository for money, jewels, papers, etc.
any receptacle or structure for the storage or preservation of articles:
a meat safe.
  1. a pan for catching leakage.
  2. template (def 7).
Slang. a condom.
play it safe. play (def 85).
Origin of safe
1250-1300; (adj.) Middle English sauf, saf < Anglo-French saf, Old French sauf < Latin salvus intact, whole; (noun) late Middle English save, orig. derivative of save1, assimilated to the adj.; cf. salvation
Related forms
safely, adverb
safeness, noun
quasi-safe, adjective
quasi-safely, adverb
supersafe, adjective
supersafely, adverb
supersafeness, noun
ultrasafe, adjective
unsafe, adjective
unsafely, adverb
unsafeness, noun
1. protected, sound, guarded. Safe, secure may both imply that something can be regarded as free from danger. These words are frequently interchangeable. Safe, however, is applied rather to a person or thing that is out of or has passed beyond the reach of danger: The ship is safe in port. Secure is applied to that about which there is no need to fear or worry: to feel secure about the future; The foundation of the house does not seem very secure. 4. sure, reliable. 5. wary, careful. 8. strongbox, coffer, chest, safe-deposit box. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for safely
  • Your experience, strength, and equipment determine how heavy a rock you can safely handle.
  • Be sure to transport your data safely before you share it.
  • These plugs should detach safely and cleanly from the wall when you trip over them, not from the device itself.
  • And he led them on safely, so that they feared not: but the sea overwhelmed their enemies.
  • But with proper precautions, they can be visited and experienced safely.
  • He excavates fossils, gets them back to the museum safely and exposes the specimens so that they can be studied.
  • Gamers have to decide how to get the mail safely from one coast to the other so that the mail arrives all in one piece.
  • Since nothing but leaves and water are added, they're nontoxic and can be safely added to the compost pile.
  • The food might not be at peak quality after the date, but it can still be eaten safely.
  • Or, to make people behave more safely, you have to reset their risk thermostats.
British Dictionary definitions for safely


affording security or protection from harm: a safe place
(postpositive) free from danger: you'll be safe here
secure from risk; certain; sound: a safe investment, a safe bet
worthy of trust; prudent: a safe companion
tending to avoid controversy or risk: a safe player
unable to do harm; not dangerous: a criminal safe behind bars, water safe to drink
(Brit, informal) excellent
on the safe side, as a precaution
in a safe condition: the children are safe in bed now
play safe, to act in a way least likely to cause danger, controversy, or defeat
a strong container, usually of metal and provided with a secure lock, for storing money or valuables
a small ventilated cupboard-like container for storing food
(US & Canadian) a slang word for condom
Derived Forms
safely, adverb
safeness, noun
Word Origin
C13: from Old French salf, from Latin salvus; related to Latin salus safety
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for safely

late 13c., "without risk; without harm;" mid-14c., "without risk of error," from safe (adj.) + -ly (2).



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.).


"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.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for safely


n,n phr

A condom; french letter, rubber (1897+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Related Abbreviations for safely


  1. simulation analysis of financial exposure
  2. Smokefree Air for Everyone
The American Heritage® Abbreviations Dictionary, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Idioms and Phrases with safely
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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