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[sangk-choo-er-ee] /ˈsæŋk tʃuˌɛr i/
noun, plural sanctuaries.
a sacred or holy place.
  1. the Biblical tabernacle or the Temple in Jerusalem.
  2. the holy of holies of these places of worship.
an especially holy place in a temple or church.
the part of a church around the altar; the chancel.
a church or other sacred place where fugitives were formerly entitled to immunity from arrest.
immunity afforded by refuge in such a place.
any place of refuge; asylum.
a tract of land where birds and wildlife, especially those hunted for sport, can breed and take refuge in safety from hunters.
1300-50; Middle English < Late Latin sānctuārium, equivalent to sānctu- (replacing Latin sānct-), combining form of sanctus (see Sanctus) + -ārium -ary
Related forms
sanctuaried, adjective
1. church, temple, altar, shrine, sanctum, adytum. 8. preserve. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for sanctuaries


noun (pl) -aries
a holy place
a consecrated building or shrine
(Old Testament)
  1. the Israelite temple at Jerusalem, esp the holy of holies
  2. the tabernacle in which the Ark was enshrined during the wanderings of the Israelites
the chancel, or that part of a sacred building surrounding the main altar
  1. a sacred building where fugitives were formerly entitled to immunity from arrest or execution
  2. the immunity so afforded
a place of refuge; asylum
a place, protected by law, where animals, esp birds, can live and breed without interference
Word Origin
C14: from Old French sainctuarie, from Late Latin sanctuārium repository for holy things, from Latin sanctus holy
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 sanctuaries
c.1340, "building set apart for holy worship," from Anglo-Fr. sentuarie, from O.Fr. sainctuarie, from L.L. sanctuarium "a sacred place, shrine" (especially the Hebrew Holy of Holies; see sanctum), also "a private room," from L. sanctus "holy" (see saint). By medieval Church law, fugitives or debtors enjoyed immunity from arrest in churches, hence transf. sense of "immunity from punishment" (c.1380). General (non-ecclesiastical) sense of "place of refuge or protection" is attested from 1568; as "land set aside for wild plants or animals to breed and live" it is recorded from 1879. Under English law, one claiming the right of sanctuary had 40 days to confess and accept permanent banishment. This was abolished in Britain 1625 in criminal cases, 1696, 1722 in civil cases.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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sanctuaries in the Bible

denotes, (1) the Holy Land (Ex. 15:17; comp. Ps. 114:2); (2) the temple (1 Chr. 22:19; 2 Chr. 29:21); (3) the tabernacle (Ex. 25:8; Lev. 12:4; 21:12); (4) the holy place, the place of the Presence (Gr. hieron, the temple-house; not the _naos_, which is the temple area, with its courts and porches), Lev. 4:6; Eph. 2:21, R.V., marg.; (5) God's holy habitation in heaven (Ps. 102:19). In the final state there is properly "no sanctuary" (Rev. 21:22), for God and the Lamb "are the sanctuary" (R.V., "temple"). All is there hallowed by the Divine Presence; all is sancturary.

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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