From the second edition (1989):
safe, a.
(seɪf) Forms: 3–6 sauf, (3–4 sauve), 4–6 saufe, 5 saauf, 5–6 sauff(e; 3–5 saf, 4–5 saff(e, 4–6 saaf, (5 saafe, saaff); 4–6 saulf, salve, 5–7 salf(e, 6–7 salffe, saulfe; 5–7 Sc. saiff, 6 saif, saiv, sayfe, sailf, 6–7 saife, 7 saiffe; 3–5 (6–7 Sc.) save, 4– safe. [ME. sauf, sāf, a. F. sauf (fem. sauve) = Pr. salv-s, sal-s, Sp., Pg., It. salvo:—L. salvus uninjured, entire, healthy (whence salūt-, salūs health, salvē imperative, ‘hail’).
The L. word corresponds in root and suffix, though prob. not in ablaut-grade, to Gr. ὅλος (Ionic οὖλος) whole, Skr. sarva all, whole:—Indogermanic *solwo-. The root occurs also in Irish slán healthy, and in OL. sollus whole, Welsh holl all, whole:—*solno-.


With regard to the phonology in Eng. cf. sage (the plant) from F. sauge, and gage (gauge) from ONF. gauge.


The forms with v in ME. usually represent either the plural or the definite inflexion of the adj. From the 15th to the 17th c. save sometimes occurs (latterly only Sc.), in most instances prob. as a mere graphical alteration of safe.]


I. Free from hurt or damage; unharmed.


1. a. Unhurt, uninjured, unharmed; having been preserved from or escaped some real or apprehended danger. Chiefly (now only) with quasi-advb. force after verbs of coming, going, bringing, etc.

1297 R. Glouc. (Rolls) 6895 Ȝif hire vet beþ þanne sauf wiþoute wemminge. a1300 Cursor M. 11546 Þai ferd al sauf in to þair kyth. 1340 Ayenb. 36 Þet hi habbe, huet cas yualle, hire catel sauf. c1386 Chaucer Can. Yeom. T. 397 Somtyme his good is drenched in the see, And somtym comth it sauf un-to the londe. c1450 Merlin xxvii. 559 That ye sholde yeve hym trewys saf to come and saf to go‥be-twene this and yole. 1471 Caxton Recuyell (Sommer) I. 217 Ye shall retorne saulf fro this entrepryse. 1513 Douglas Æneis x. i. 104 Suffyr that ȝyng Ascanyus mot be Salf [v.r. sauff] fra all wapynnis [L. ab armis incolumem], and of perrell fre. 1538 Starkey England i. ii. 67 As gud marynerys‥bryng theyr schype saue out of tempestys into the sure port. 1600 in 10th Rep. Hist. MSS. Comm. App. v. 458 To retowrn saulfe without any molestacion. a1674 Clarendon Hist. Reb. xv. §57 As if the principal art requisite in the captain of a ship had been to be sure to come home safe again. 1737 C. Pitt in J. Duncombe Lett. (1773) II. 98 The papers came safe to hand. 1760–72 H. Brooke Fool of Qual. (1809) III. 83 As the Moors are excellent swimmers, I suppose most of them got safe. 1785 Cowper Let. to Lady Hesketh Wks. 1836 V. 198 My desk‥is safe arrived. 1799 T. Holcroft Mem. (1816) III. 229 [In a stiff breeze a sailor swore that] he could not keep his hair safe on his head. 1831 Society I. 209 He always insists on seeing us safe across the Downs. 1902 Wister Virginian xix, Your‥man brought us out‥safe and dry.


b. Often in phr. safe and sound. Occas. †sound and safe; also safe and sure, †safe and sicker, †quit and safe. [F. sain et sauf; L. sanus et salvus, salvus sanus, salvus et sospes, etc.] Also †safe and soon, †soon and safe.

a1300 Cursor M. 7867 Sauf and sond ai mot þou be To all þe folk es vnder þe. c1350 Will. Palerne 2816 Þei were gretli glad‥Þat he sauf was & sound fro þe men a-schaped. 1390 Gower Conf. I. 233 So that thei mihten sauf and sone The water passe. 1398 Trevisa Barth. De P.R. xvii. cii. (1495) 667 Deed bodyes ben kepte sauf and sounde whan they ben bawmyd wyth confeccyons of mirra. c1440 Promp. Parv. 440/2 Saaf, and sekyr, salvus. c1450 Myrc Festial 17 And soo he ȝede sonde and saf hys way. c1489 Caxton Sonnes of Aymon i. 29, I shall lete you goo quyte & sauf. 1585 T. Washington tr. Nicholay's Voy. ii. ix. 42b, [He] was by a Dolphin brought safe and sound to the porte. 1610 Holland Camden's Brit. (1637) 635 Gobanium‥, keeping the ancient name, as it were, safe and sound is tearmed Aber-Gevenny. 1590 Shakes. Com. Err. i. i. 49 And soone, and safe, [she] arriued where I was. 1819–24 Byron Juan iv. liv, I leave Don Juan for the present, safe—Not sound, poor fellow, but severely wounded. 1847 Grote Greece ii. l. (1862) IV. 353 He would again replace him ‘safe and sound’ in the fortification.


c. to be, arrive, etc., safe (or safe and sound): often merely a colloq. or epistolary formula for ‘to be duly arrived’, ‘to be at one's destination’, etc.

1710 Swift Jrnl. to Stella 9 Sept., I send this only to tell that I am safe in London. 1882 Sala Amer. Revis. ii. (1885) 25, I was safe and sound in the Brevoort coach. 1887 Century Mag. Dec. 197/2, I promised to bring you both to lunch, safe and sound.


d. (to come) to safe hand: confusedly used for ‘to come safe to hand’. Obs.

c1645 Howell Lett. (1655) III. xviii. 27 Your last of the fourth current came to safe hand.


2. In sound health, well, ‘whole’; usually healed, cured, restored to health. Also safe and sound; also const. of. Obs.

c1290 S. Eng. Leg. 458/51 Þe Quen a-non þoruȝh is bone deliuered was of childe, In guod lif, and hire child al-so‥Þo the king i-say þe Quene sauf, and þat child al-so. a1300 Cursor M. 8170 Thoru þe, he said, sal þis mesele Be sauf and sund of al vn-hele. c1350 Will. Palerne 868 He was al sauf & sound of alle his sor greues. 1382 Wyclif Luke xviii. 42 Thi feith hath maad thee saaf [Vulg. te salvum fecit]. c1400 Secreta Secret., Gov. Lordsh. 92 He þat drynkys it, with þe sauour þeroff he shall fele hele, and he shal be sauf of catarre, of Malencoly‥and of many oþer syknes. c1450 St. Cuthbert (Surtees) 3661 Þe seke man with his hand he blisse; Fra he him touched safe he was. 1486 Bk. St. Albans cvjb, Put som in the Roofe of her mowth and she shall be saafe. 1526 Tindale Luke viii. 48 Thy fayth hath made the safe.


3. Theol. [After L. salvus in the Vulgate.] Delivered from sin or condemnation, saved; in a state of salvation, spiritually ‘whole’. Obs.

a1300 Cursor M. 19967 All to be sauf o sin and scam, þat wald tru in his hali nam. a1300–1400 Ibid. 10867 (Gött.) His folk all saf [Cott. saued] þan sal he make, And bring þaim vte of sinne and wrake. 1340 Hampole Pr. Consc. 2959 Bot yhit has the saul mare drede þan, Til þe dome be gyven and it may se Whether it sal dampned or saufe be. 1382 Wyclif Acts xvi. 31 Bileue thou in to the Lord Jhesu and thou schalt be saf [Vulg. salvus eris; Gr. σωθήση]. 1399 Langl. Rich. Redeles Prol. 81 As my soule be saff ffrom synne at myn ende. c1440 Hylton Scala Perf. (W. de W. 1494) i. xli, Some by sorowe‥some by prechyng & techyng‥shal be saaf & come to blisse. 1562 Winȝet Cert. Tractates Wks. (S.T.S.) I. 81 God makis ws sauff be the lawar of regeneratioun [Tit. iii. 5].


4. Mentally or morally sound or sane. Obs.
The phr. with (a) safe conscience was suggested by L. salvā conscientiā (cf. 5 below).

1390 Gower Conf. II. 32, I mai wel with sauf conscience Excuse me of necgligence Towardes love in alle wise. 1492 In god mynde and saf memorye [see memory 2b]. 1549 Latimer 1st Serm. bef. Edw. VI Dj, The which treasure, if it be not sufficiente, he maye lawfully and wyth a salue conscience, take taxis of hys subiectes. 1560 J. Daus tr. Sleidane's Comm. 6b, To revoke his sentence already taught and defended, he cannot with a safe conscience [orig. cum bona conscientia]. 1567 in F. J. Baigent Crondal Rec. (1891) 172 Any personne‥beinge of the full age of twenty and one yeares, of saulf memorie. 1577 J. Northbrooke Dicing (1843) 91 Fewe men or women come from playes, and resortes of men, with safe and chaste mindes. 1601 Shakes. Jul. C. i. i. 14 A Trade Sir, that I hope I may vse with a safe Conscience. 1604 —— Oth. iv. i. 280 Are his wits safe? Is he not light of Braine? 1611 —— Cymb. iv. ii. 131 No single soule Can we set eye on: but in all safe reason He must haue some Attendants. a1817 Jane Austen Northang. Abb. (1818) I. xiii. 231 Now we may all go to-morrow with a safe conscience.


5. Used in a construction corresponding to the L. ablative absolute (e.g. salvā fide, salvo jure; so F. sauf votre respect) with the sense: Keeping‥safe or intact, without hurt or prejudice to‥, without loss of‥, making reservation of‥, with due respect to.‥ Obs. (See also safe, save prep.)

c1290 S. Eng. Leg. 120/488 Trewenesse we þe sworen ase riȝt was, and eorþelich honour al-so, Sauue ore ordre and ore riȝte, bote þat was out i-do. 1297 R. Glouc. (Rolls) 1242, & þat he vor is neueu wolde, vorto abatie strif, Do hey amendement, sauue lume & lif. c1374 Chaucer Troylus ii. 480 But elles wol I fonde, Myn honour sauf, plese him fro day to day. 1423 Jas. I Kingis Q. cxliii, Hir worschip sauf. 1470 Henry Wallace xi. 1208 Tharfor till him is no comparisoun, As off a man, sauff reuerence off the croun. c1483 Caxton Dialogues 17 Non feray, sauue le vostre grace, I shall not, sauf your grace. c1500 Melusine 3 Saaf theire juggement.


II. Free from danger; secure.


6. a. Not exposed to danger; not liable to be harmed or lost; secure.

1387 Trevisa Higden (Rolls) II. 227 Þey bulde hem smale cootes and cabans‥þat hire lyf myȝte be þe more saaf. c1400 Laud Troy Bk. (E.E.T.S.) 18201 Off no-thing were thei a-dredde; Thei wende thei hadde ben saue & sure. c1440 Pallad. on Husb. xii. 363 And wrie hem that noon ayer vppon hem shyne, So beth they sauf. 1447–8 Shillingford's Lett. (Camden) 88 To bryng yn stuf for the werre‥ther to be kept stronge saf and sure. 1590 Shakes. Com. Err. i. ii. 105, I greatly feare my monie is not safe. 1596 —— Tam. Shr. v. ii. 151 Whil'st thou ly'st warme at home, secure and safe. 1591 Spenser Daphn. xx, Safe then and safest were my sillie sheepe, Ne fear'd the Wolfe. 1849 Macaulay Hist. Eng. v. I. 662 No second witness could be found.‥ Cornish thought himself safe. Ibid. vii. II. 190 Apprehensions that the interests of the Anglican Church might not be safe under the rule of a man bred among Dutch Presbyterians. 1852 Mrs. Stowe Uncle Tom's C. vii. 43 No, no, Harry darling! mother can't eat till you are safe!
quasi-adv. 1860 Bohn's Handbk. Games, Billiards 572 Either decline the chance altogether, and lay the balls safe, or make that stroke which seems most sure and easy.


b. Const. from, †of (= secure against).

1390 Gower Conf. III. 153 That he mesure in his expence So kepe, that of indigence He mai be sauf. c1440 Pallad. on Husb. i. 973 Al the lond that thou hast goon aboute ffro cloudis wicke is saaf [Bodl. MS. saue]. Ibid. 982 Thy seedis with cucumber rotis grounde Let stepe, and saaf of euery mys they are. 1535 Coverdale Job xxi. 9 Their houses are safe from all feare. 1577 B. Googe Heresbach's Husb. i. (1586) 33 Yf they be steeped in Capons blood, they wyll be safe from all hurtful weedes. 1697 Dryden Æneid vii. 1065 Where then he liv'd obscure, but safe from Jove. 1801 Med. Jrnl. V. 403 That a person once infected with the small-pox is safe from having it a second time. 1866 G. Macdonald Ann. Q. Neighb. v. (1878) 66, I did not feel safe from him till I was once more in my study. 1891 Helen B. Harris Apol. Aristides ii. 14 The hermits‥petitioned him to build them a house where they might be safe from the incursions of the Arabs.


7. Of a place or thing: Affording security or immunity; not exposing to danger; not likely to cause harm or injury. Also const. for.

1390 Gower Conf. I. 165 Neptunus‥kept hire in so sauf a place Fro Polipheme and his manace, That he‥Ne mihte atteigne hir compaignie. 1590 Shakes. Com. Err. i. ii. 78 Answer me, In what safe place you haue bestow'd my monie. 1603 Owen Pembrokeshire (1891) 111 A good and salfe roade for shippinge. 1666 Act 18 & 19 Chas. II, c. 8 §5 The building with Bricke is not onely more comely and durable but alsoe more safe against future perills of Fire. 1680 Lady R. Russell Lett. I. iii. 11 The Iesuits' Powder is‥held most safe to be taken by the best doctors. 1697 Dryden Virg. Georg. iv. 608 A Station safe for Ships, when Tempests roar. 1789 W. Buchan Dom. Med. (1790) 129 All kinds of linen and bedding, when not frequently used, become damp. How then is it possible that beds, which are not slept in above two or three times a year, should be safe? 1861 F. Nightingale Nursing 14 The safest atmosphere of all for a patient is a good fire and an open window. 1866 Young Fires 59 Staircases, to be fireproof, or at least safe under the ordinary circumstances of fire. 1870 Dickens E. Drood viii, That part of the world is at a safe distance. 1917 W. Wilson in Sel. Addresses (1918) 195 The world must be made safe for democracy. Its peace must be planted upon the tested foundations of political liberty. 1929 H. W. Nevinson English viii. 63 It was believed by some that the Great War was waged to make the world safe for democracy, and the result has been that democracy was destroyed in many European countries. 1932 J. Fortescue in Eighteen-Sixties 244 The pain of seeing the world made safe for that most unsafe and lowering of influences, vulgarity. 1932 A. P. Herbert in Punch 15 June 653/2 The last few years of the War were directed by the great brains up above to thinking out new ways of making the War safe for the infantry. 1963 J. F. Kennedy in Evening Star (Washington, D.C.) 10 June a7/4 And if we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity.


8. a. Used transf. in the compounds safe-conduct, safeguard, q.v.; hence with ns. of similar meaning, as safe convoy, safe custody (cf. L. tuta custodia), †safe stowage; also safe keeping, safe ward.

1536 Cromwell in Merriman Life & Lett. (1902) II. 9 To kepe the same Offeley in your salve custodye. 1547 in Vicary's Anat. (1888) App. iii. i. 129 Which lettres were forwyth Delyuered ouer to the sauffe Custody of Master Chamberleyn. a1605 Montgomerie Misc. Poems xlix. 22 Than grant thou vs‥Thy saiv sure conduct [cf. OF. salf et seur conduit]. 1611 Shakes. Cymb. i. vi. 192 And I am something curious, being strange, To haue them in safe stowage. 1634 Milton Comus 81, I shoot from Heav'n to give him safe convoy. 1649 Cromwell Let. 24 Nov. in Carlyle App. C. No. 14, I have by this Bearer returned a Safe-convoy, as you desire, for what Commissioners you think fit to send out to me. 1651 Hobbes Leviathan ii. xxviii. 164 The safe custody of a man accused. 1766 Blackstone Comm. II. 505 His only business being to keep the goods in his safe custody.


b. safe pledge (see quot.). Obs.

1684 Cowel's Interpr. (ed. Manley), Safe pledge, Salvus plegius, is a Surety given for a Man's Appearance against a day assigned, Bracton lib. 4. cap. 2. num. 2. where it is also called certus plegius.


9. a. Of an action, procedure, undertaking, plan, etc.: Free from risk, not involving danger or mishap, guaranteed against failure. Sometimes = free from risk of error, as in it is safe to say.‥

1590 Spenser F.Q. iii. xi. 23 Therefore, Sir knight, Aread what course of you is safest dempt. 1605 Shakes. Macb. ii. iii. 148 Our safest way Is to auoid the ayme. 1624 Middleton Game at Chess ii. i. 21 What haue you there? Bl. Bs. A Note (Sir) of State-Policie, And one exceeding safe one. 1651 Hobbes Leviathan ii. xxvii. 151 It is safer to erre on that hand, than on the other. 1721 De Foe Mem. Cavalier (1840) 43 'Tis never safe to despise an enemy. 1728 Swift Charac. Mrs. Johnson Wks. 1824 IX. 286 Perhaps she was sometimes too severe, which is a safe and pardonable error. 1751 Johnson Rambler No. 173 ⁋11 It is always safer to err in favour of others than of ourselves. 1790 Cowper Odyss. xxiii. 150 To me the safest counsel and the best. 1810 Scott Lady of L. ii. xxxvi, Far up the lake 'twere safest land. 1854 J. B. Langley Life-Agent's Vade-mecum 53 If an assurance company has obtained 1000 policies, it is statistically safe. 1863 W. Phillips Sp. xi. 254 This is Choate, who made it safe to murder. 1893 Law Times XCIV. 454/1 It is safe to say that propositions of this kind will not figure upon the Statute-book yet awhile.


b. In stronger sense: Conducive to safety. Obs.

1625 Bacon Ess., Seditions (Arb.) 407 An Embleme, no doubt, to shew, how safe it is for Monarchs, to make sure of the good Will of Common People.


c. Phr. on the safe side = with a margin of security against error. Cf. the sure(r) side s.v. sure a. 1e.

1811 Jane Austen Sense & Sens. III. iv. 78 Determining to be on the safe side, he made his apology in form as soon as he could say any thing. 1847 Marryat Childr. N. Forest xi, Be on the safe side, and do not trust him too far. 1858 Merc. Mar. Mag. V. 84 They should rather err on the safe side. 1893 Sir R. Ball Story of Sun 307 For the sake of being on the safe side, I have taken the lowest value.


d. applied transf. to the agent.

1874 Heath Croquet-Player 53 Remember that the dead ball is not so safe a helper as your partner. 1884 Liverpool Merc. 18 Feb. 5/2 One is perfectly safe in saying that the position of the defendants has relatively improved.


10. Secured, kept in custody; unable to escape. Hence, not likely to come out, intervene, or do hurt; placed beyond the power of doing harm, not at present dangerous.

?c1600 Distr. Emperor i. i. in Bullen Old Pl. (1884) III. 200 What, madam? is he salve asleepe? Most soundlye, Sir. 1605 Shakes. Macb. iii. iv. 25 But Banquo's safe? Mur. I, my good Lord: safe in a ditch he bides. 1610 —— Temp. iii. i. 21 My Father Is hard at study; pray now rest your selfe, Hee's safe for these three houres. 1613 —— Hen. VIII, v. iii. 97 Receiue him, And see him safe i' th' Tower. 1618 Bolton Florus iii. x. (1636) 204 Cæsar was at this time absent out of Gallia;‥and so the wayes cloyed up, they presumed hee was fast and safe enough. 1667 Milton P.L. ix. 815 And other care perhaps May have diverted from continual watch Our great Forbidder, safe with all his Spies About him. 1678 R. L'Estrange Seneca's Mor., Epist. v. (1696) 490 When the Snake is Frozen, 'tis safe. 18‥ Nursery Rhyme, ‘Three children sliding on the ice’, Ye parents that have children dear,‥If you would have them safe abroad, Pray keep them safe at home.
Prov. 1573 Tusser Husb. (1878) 173 Drie sunne, drie winde, Safe binde, safe finde. [Cf. fast adv. 2, quot. 1596.]


11. a. Sure in procedure; not liable to fail, mislead, or disappoint expectation; trustworthy; spec. in Cricket. b. Cautious, keeping to ‘the safe side’. Also in proverbial phr. better (to be) safe than sorry.

1604 Shakes. Oth. ii. iii. 205 My blood begins my safer Guides to rule. 1667 Milton P.L. xi. 372 Ascend, I follow thee, safe Guide, the path Thou lead'st me. 1678 Cudworth Intell. Syst. i. iii. §37. 24 (1820) I. 367 That safe and sure~footed interpreter, Alex. Aphrodisius. 1823 Lady's Mag. July 387/1 Samuel Long‥is‥so steady a [cricket] player! so safe! 1851 J. Pycroft Cricket Field x. 185 The safest pair of hands in England. 1887 A. Birrell Obiter Dicta Ser. ii. 46 As a master of style and diction, Milton is as safe as Virgil. 1894 Daily News 3 May 5/3 The first [hymnal] is described by Canon Twells as being generally acceptable to high churches, the second to low churches, and the third to intermediate, ‘sometimes called safe churches’. 1897 K. S. Ranjitsinhji Jubilee Bk. Cricket ii. 18 ‘A safe field’‥signifies that the fielder may be relied upon to stop hits that come within reasonable distance of him, and to hold practically all catches. 1975 Oxf. Compan. Sports & Games 648/2 A bulky left-handed batsman of safe and unspectacular method.
Prov. [1837 S. Lover Rory O'More ii. xxi. 148 ‘Jist countin' them,—is there any harm in that?’ said the tinker: ‘it's betther be sure than sorry’.] 1933 Radio Times 14 Apr. 125/1 Cheap distempers very soon crack or fade. Better be safe than sorry. Ask for Hall's. 1958 [see lightship]. 1962 A. Nisbett Technique Sound Studio vii. 120 For tapes that are to be broadcast it is better to be safe than sorry. 1972 J. Wilson Hide & Seek vii. 128 It's not that I want to shut you in.‥But—well, it's better to be safe than sorry.


c. to play safe: see play v. 18f.


12. a. With of: Sure to obtain. ?Obs.

1667 Pepys Diary 23 Aug., I find most people pleased with their being at ease, and safe of a peace. 1802 Southey La Caba 3 Here I stand, Safe of my purpose now! 1846 Thackeray Let. 9 Feb. (MS.), What I meant by ‘Safe’ is the best word to be applied to a play I think—safe of a real agreeable—of course I don't know how permanent—success.


b. to be safe, followed by inf. or †const. for, is predicated of a person or thing to express the certainty of the fact or event involved in the predication.
Hence used attrib. in colloquial phrases like ‘He is a safe first’ = he is safe to take a first class.

1790 Grose Prov. Gloss. (ed. 2) Suppl., ‘He is safe enough for being hanged.’ Cumb. 1852 Smedley L. Arundel xxvii. 204 Society had better shut up shop at once, for it's safe to be ‘uprooted from its very foundations’. 1860 G. J. Whyte-Melville Mkt. Harb. 107 He'll win it, as safe as safe! 1865 F. Oakeley Hist. Notes 46 If‥you had happened to enter any common-room in Oxford‥you would have been safe to hear some ten or twenty voices eloquent on the subject of Tract 90. 1874 G. J. Whyte-Melville Uncle John viii. I. 225 The foreign horse was safe to win the Two Thousand. 1882 B. M. Croker Proper Pride i. vii. 137, ‘I am sure a man never sent it,’ said Helen. ‘I'm sorry to say it of my own sex, but it's safe to be a woman’. 1894 ‘J. S. Winter’ Red Coats 50 You know the Colonel is as safe as houses to come round after church parade.


c. ? Certain, established as fact, not to be called in question.

1788 Priestley Lect. Hist. i. i. 14 For want of acquaintance with history, we are apt to pronounce a priori many things to be impossible, which in fact really exist, and are very safe.


13. quasi-n. in safe (OF. en sauf): in a safe place, in safety. with safe: with safety, safely. Obs. rare.

c1430 Pilgr. Lyf Manhode i. xvii. (1869) 13 Þe official turned him, and bar with him þe oynementes, and putte hem in saaf. 1569 Preston Cambises E3b, If I with safe may graunt this deed, I will it not refuse.


14. Special collocations. safe area, during the war of 1939–45, an area not liable to be attacked or invaded; safe deposit (orig. U.S.), a place in which valuables are stored; also attrib.; safe edge, (a) a smooth edge of a file; hence safe-edge, -edged adjs.; (b) Photogr. (see quot. 1891); Safehand, safe(-)hand, applied attrib. and absol. to a variety of courier services available for confidential documents; also as adv.; safe hit Baseball (see quot. 1895); safe house, a place of refuge or rendezvous for those wanted by the authorities, engaged in spying, etc.; safe lamp, lantern, light, †(a) a safety-lamp; (b) Photogr., a translucent filter for use on a dark-room light, coloured according to the sensitivity of the materials used; also, a lamp that produces such a dim, coloured light; so safe-lighting vbl. n., -lighted, -lit ppl. adjs.; safe load, a load which leaves a required margin of security against causing breakage or injury to a structure (cf. safety 6); safe period, the part of the menstrual cycle during which conception is least likely; safe seat Pol., a parliamentary seat which is likely to be retained at an election with a large majority; safe-tray = safe n. 3.

1944 Ourselves in Wartime 175 The threat of invasion, and the air-blitz of 1940–1941 over London and the provinces stimulated evacuation afresh.‥ Many thousands of children were removed to *safe areas, and‥over 620,000 children were settled in reception areas. 1944 Daily Tel. 11 July 2 Married couple wanted. Safe area (Alva, Scotland). 1783 J. Huntington in Sparks Corr. Amer. Rev. (1853) iv. 27 West Point‥may be made a *safe deposit where every military article may be kept in good order and repair. 1880 W. Newton Serm. Boys & Girls (1881) 338, I went down into the vaults of one of our great safe-deposit buildings. 1882 Century Mag. Mar. 769/1 They did not ask for the key of the safe-deposit box, or for other evidence. 1886 Encycl. Brit. XXI. 145/1 The public safes or safe-deposits erected in most of the great cities of America and in London. 1970 K. Roos What did Hattie See? x. 92 You don't give a dame a key to your safe deposit box. 1846 Holtzapffel Turning etc. II. 821 Some files have one or more edges that are left uncut, and these are known as *safe-edges, because such edges are not liable to act upon those parts of the work against which they are allowed to rub,‥The safe-edge file is principally required in making a set-off, or shoulder [etc.]. 1891 Anthony's Photogr. Bull. IV. 66 The negative to be printed from, should have an opaque border, called a safe edge, about a quarter of an inch wide made around it. 1884 F. J. Britten Watch & Clockm. 230 *Safe Edged File. 1947 Ld. Mountbatten Let. 12 June in India Office Rec. 1450 GG 43 Coll. I. p. 31 Please follow it up with the letter, which should be sent by *safehand of pilot. 1965 ‘W. Haggard’ Hard Sell xi. 113 The rumblings from London‥had ceased with a Safehand letter from the Minister. 1975 N. Luard Robespierre Serial iv. 16 Delivered safe-hand by courier eight months before, the letter stated briefly that Darley had been approached by an individual who's indicated he might be interested in political asylum. Ibid. 17 A second safe-hand letter had arrived. 1867 Ball Player's Chron. 6 June 2/3 Flagg afterward made his base by a *safe hit. 1895 G. J. Manson Sporting Dict. 98 Safe Hits, this term is applied to high balls sent from the bat with just force enough to carry them over the head of the infields, but not far enough out for the outfielders to catch. 1897 Encycl. Sport I. 77/2 Immediately the batsman hits a fair ball, he endeavours to get to first base.‥ He may get there on a safe hit made by the succeeding batsman. 1963 J. Joesten They call it Intelligence i. iv. 44 A so-called ‘*safe house’‥is usually a piece of extra-territorial property owned by a particular embassy. 1969 H. MacInnes Salzburg Connection xv. 212 So that is what it was: a safe house. They could shelter several people here‥while new passports and identities were being faked. 1979 H. Kissinger White House Years xxi. 889 A seedy little apartment in an old brownstone that the CIA had used as a safehouse. 1815 Davy Let. 30 Oct. in Paris Life (1831) II. 82, I trust the *Safe lamp will answer all the objects of the collier. 1968 Gloss. Terms Offset Lithogr. Printing (B.S.I.) 11 Safelamp, a lamp providing light of a spectral composition to which a photographic material is relatively or completely insensitive. 1978 Amateur Photographer 2 Aug. 131/1 With a 150-watt enlarger lamp, two 25-watt lamps in the safelamps and a 60-watt lamp in the illuminator there is no risk of overload. 1815 Davy in Phil. Trans. CVI. 12 The first *safe lantern that I had constructed, was made of tin-plate, and the light emitted through four glass plates in the sides. 1816 Ibid. 23, I have already had the honor of communicating to the Royal Society an account of a *safe light. 1903 A. Payne Pract. Orthochrom. Photogr. 90 Red sensitive plates‥may be used with a safe light. 1932 Discovery Sept. 292/1 These infra-red plates are‥easy to manipulate in the dark room with a lamp screened by a greenish yellow safe-light filter. 1976 J. McClure Rogue Eagle vi. 98 If‥he'd had the orange safe-light turned on‥the film would have fogged instantly. 1977 J. Hedgcoe Photographer's Handbk. 51 These features make the paper convenient to handle in an orange *safe-lighted darkroom. Ibid. 39 Printing papers and films intended for copying black and white originals have this sensitivity, allowing the use of bright orange *safe-lighting. 1979 Amateur Photographer 10 Jan. 75/1 Electronic timers are far more accurate than relying on peering at your watch in a *safelit darkroom. 1868 Humber Strains in Girders 67 Breaking and *Safe Loads for Bridges, Girders, etc. 1908 Daily Tel. 30 Jan. 15/4 This particular chain was certified‥as being capable of standing a strain of three tons, so that its ‘safe’ load was 112 ton. 1918 M. Stopes Wise Parenthood iv. 31 Some people‥may find the comparative security of a ‘*safe period’ sufficient. 1923 —— Contraception ii. 14 The proper form of contraceptive must be one available at any time by the pair: and so the ‘safe period’ often advocated by those who pose as moralists is not satisfactory. 1934 Jrnl. Amer. Med. Assoc. 10 Feb. 452/2 The woman determines her ‘safe period’ on the basis of her shortest cycle, and also of her longest cycle. The overlapping ‘safe days’ constitute her ‘safe period’. 1936 C. G. Hartman Time of Ovulation in Women xviii. 183 There is an absolute Safe Period for the monkey female. Ibid. xix. 192 Announcement of failures of the Safe Period is a daily occurrence. 1956 A. Huxley Adonis & Alphabet 284 In the kind of society which has the most urgent need of birth control, the Safe Period Method is almost useless. 1971 Petticoat 17 July 6/3 The safe period should more correctly be known as the safer period. You are less likely to conceive then, but that is all. 1976 Winter's Crimes 8 180 The so-called safe period won only limited approval.‥ She couldn't let herself be pregnant. 1891 W. Fraser Disraeli & his Day 491 A material element in the future of Constitutional Government is the non-existence of *safe seats. 1939 W. I. Jennings Parliament ii. 27 The influence of a great landowner.‥ May Secure nomination by the local Conservative association and so enable the person nominated to acquire a safe seat. 1974 Times 13 Feb. 4/6 Redistribution can make a safe seat marginal. 1886 Encycl. Brit. XXI. 715/2 Under most plumbing fixtures it is usual to place a *safe-tray to receive any water accidentally spilt. 1912 G. Thomson Mod. Sanitary Engin. xvi. 142 When built-up baths were in use, safe trays were an indispensable part of the installation.


15. a. Comb., as †safe-bestowing, †safe-maker, †safe-making (where ‘safe’ is objective); safe-borne, safe-buttressed, safe-enshrined, safe-going, safe-marching, safe-moored, safe-sequestered, safe-swung ppl. adjs. (where ‘safe’ is quasi-adv.).

1575 in Feuillerat Revels Q. Eliz. (1908) 254 Putting in order and *safebestowinge of the garmentes. 1896 Kipling Seven Seas 38 Average fifteen hunder souls *safe-borne fra' port to port. 1918 G. Frankau One of Them xxxii. 249 O Empire thrice and four times blessed by Fate, *Safe-buttressed on ten thousand O.B.E.s! 1926 W. de la Mare Memory in Kipling & de la Mare St. Andrews, Keeps she for me, then, *safe-enshrined—Cold of the north—those bleached grey streets. 1874 Trollope Way we live Now (1875) I. xlvii. 296 In this *safe-going country young men perhaps are not their own masters till they are past thirty. 1643 Trapp Comm. Gen. xlix. 10 Others render Shiloh, Tranquillator, Salvator, The *Safe-maker, The Peace-maker. 1579 W. Wilkinson Confut. Fam. Love 13 Their ministration is the *safemaking ministration. 1755 J. N. Scott Ess. Transl. Homer's Wks. 3 *Safe-marching through the Camp. 1831 Carlyle Sart. Res. iii. xii, *Safe-moored in some stillest obscurity. 1725 Pope Odyss. v. 561 Some smooth ascent, or *safe-sequester'd bay. 1930 R. Campbell Poems 17 Safe-sequestered in some rural glen. 1900 Kipling in Century Mag. Jan. 407 *Safe-swung above the glassy death.


b. In verbal phrase used subst.: see quot. Obs.

c1640 J. Smyth Lives Berkeleys (1883) I. 96 He hath letters of safe come, safe goe, and safe staye for five dayes.


¶vouch‥safe, safe vouch: see vouchsafe.