sanctuary vs. safehaven


Senior Member
Would you as English native speakers say that there's a real difference between the way that "sanctuary" and "safehaven" are used in everyday language?
  • se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    'Everyday' is not a word I would apply to either of these words. 'Refuge' is a word that is commonly used for a place of safety, for example a place that provides accommodation for women who are being beaten up at home.

    'Sanctuary' is the mediaeval right to escape from the law in a church. Hence it is sometimes used as a home for lost and unwanted animals: for example there is a Donkey Sanctuary in Dorset. Oh, and 'sanctuary' can mean a sacred place, and so the street outside Westminster Abbey is still called 'Broad Sanctuary'.

    'Safe haven' is what the UN tried but failed to provide in Bosnia in 1995.


    Senior Member
    English, USA
    Sanctuary is mostly reserved for wildlife, and it is a place where wildlife can live in protection. It can refer to a building or protected area of land.


    Senior Member
    USA English
    I guess all sanctuaries are safe havens. Even in the definition of a sanctuary as part of the alter or a church or a sanctuary as a reservation to protect wildlife. I would say sanctuary or shelter are more common than safe haven.


    Senior Member
    English, USA
    "safe haven" seems to bring to mind animals as well, at least for me...
    "The zoo has become a safe haven for many local species of birds."


    Senior Member
    "Safe haven" (usually 2 words) is usually more literary - in addition to se16teddy, it could also refer to refugees seeking protection. "Sanctuary" could also refer to someplace that is considered to be holy such as a church, temple, mosque, etc.


    I would agree with se16teddy that they are not everyday words - and I'd go further and say that 'safehaven' is not a word at all, it is used as two words - "safe haven" and I would see it either as a nautical expression, or as archaic. My main contact with the word "sanctuary" was with the main altar area of Roman Catholic churches - that was always referred to as "the sanctuary" when I was young. There are a few wild-life sanctuaries but I think the word "reserve" is beginning to come into vogue for those.
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