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safe, adj. (and int.)

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α. Middle English saauf, Middle English sauff, Middle English sauue, Middle English sawf, Middle English sowfe, Middle English–1500s sauf, Middle English–1500s saufe, Middle English–1500s sauffe; Scottish pre-1700 saufe, pre-1700 sauff, pre-1700 sauffe, pre-1700 sauve, pre-1700 sawf, pre-1700 sawff, pre-1700 sawffe, pre-1700 1900s– sauf.

β. Middle English saafe, Middle English saaff, Middle English saff, Middle English saue, Middle English–1500s saaf, Middle English–1500s saf, Middle English–1500s save, Middle English–1600s saffe, Middle English– safe, late Middle English saak (transmission error), late Middle English seyue; English regional 1800s saaf (Yorkshire), 1800s saf (Devon), 1800s sef (Lancashire), 1800s syaf (north-eastern), 1800s– saafe (Lincolnshire), 1800s– seaf (northern), 1800s– seaff (northern), 1800s– seeaf (Yorkshire), 1800s– zaff (Devon); Scottish pre-1700 saaf, pre-1700 saf, pre-1700 saff, pre-1700 saffe, pre-1700 saue, pre-1700 save, pre-1700 sawe, pre-1700 seaff, pre-1700 1700s– safe.

γ. Middle English–1600s saif, Middle English–1600s sayfe, 1500s sailf, 1500s–1600s saife, 1500s–1600s saiffe, 1600s saiff, 1800s– zaayfe (English regional (Berkshire)); Scottish pre-1700 saif, pre-1700 saife, pre-1700 saiff, pre-1700 saiffe, pre-1700 sailf, pre-1700 saiv, pre-1700 sayf.

δ. Middle English–1500s salue, Middle English–1500s saulf, Middle English–1600s salf, Middle English–1600s salfe, Middle English–1600s salve, late Middle English self (perhaps transmission error), 1500s–1600s salffe, 1500s–1600s saulfe; Scottish pre-1700 salf, pre-1700 salfe, pre-1700 salue, pre-1700 salve, pre-1700 saulf, pre-1700 saulfe, pre-1700 saulff.

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Frequency (in current use):  Show frequency band information
Origin: A borrowing from French. Etymons: French salf, salve.
Etymology: < Anglo-Norman salf, Anglo-Norman and Old French, Middle French sauf, Old French saf, salv, Middle French saulf, sauff (feminine Anglo-Norman and Old French salve, save, Anglo-Norman and Old French, Middle French sauve, Middle French saulve, sauffve; French sauf   (feminine sauve  )) saved, who has attained eternal salvation (end of the 10th cent.), intact, unharmed (1130–40), in good health (1155), (of a place) secure, not dangerous (13th cent.) < classical Latin salvus   (of persons) secure, unharmed, unimpaired in health, still alive or existing, immune from punishment, (of a country) secure, unharmed, (of circumstances) in a good or sound state, well, (of things) intact, undamaged, surviving, extant, still holding good, in post-classical Latin also saved (in a Christian sense) (Vulgate), possessing rights of sanctuary (10th cent.) < the same Indo-European base (though with different vocalism) as ancient Greek ὅλος   (Ionic οὖλος  ) whole, Sanskrit sarva   all, whole. (The same base without the suffix is seen in Old Latin sollus   whole. The zero grade of classical Latin salvus   is also seen in classical Latin salūt-  , salūs   health.)
 
Compare save prep., save conj., and see discussion at that entry.
Compare Old Occitan salv  , Catalan salva   (1399), Spanish salvo   (mid 10th cent.), Portuguese salvo   (13th cent), Italian salvo   (1264).
 
In safe and sure at Phrases 4   after Anglo-Norman and Middle French sauf et seur (1215 or earlier); with sure and safe   compare Anglo-Norman seur et sauf   (14th cent. or earlier); with Phrases 4   more generally and with safe and sound at Phrases 1   compare also Anglo-Norman and Old French, Middle French sain et sauf   (c1138), Italian sano e salvo   (1353), classical Latin sānus et salvus  , salvus sānus  , classical Latin salvus et sospes  , etc.
 
For vouch..safe  , safe vouch   see vouchsafe v.
 I. Free from hurt or damage; unharmed.

1. Christian Church. Delivered from sin or condemnation, saved; in a state of salvation. Obsolete.

c1300   All Souls (Laud) l. 114 in C. Horstmann Early S.-Eng. Legendary (1887) 423   Þou miȝht i-wyte þat ich am sauf ȝwane þou ne finst me nonmore.
c1384   Bible (Wycliffite, E.V.) (Douce 369(2)) (1850) Deeds xvi. 31   Bileue thou in to the Lord Jhesu, and thou schalt be saf [L. salvus eris; Gk. σωθήση].
a1400  (a1325)    Cursor Mundi (Vesp.) l. 19967 (MED)   All to be sauf o sin and scam, þat wald tru in his hali nam.
a1400  (a1325)    Cursor Mundi (Gött.) l. 10867   His folk all saf [Vesp. saued] þan sal he make, And bring þaim vte of sinne and wrake.
a1425  (a1400)    Prick of Conscience (Galba & Harl.) (1863) l. 2959   Bot yhit has the saul mare drede þan, Til þe dome be [MS by] gyven and it may se Whether it sal dampned or saufe be.
c1475  (c1399)    Mum & Sothsegger (Cambr. Ll.4.14) (1936) Prol. l. 81   As my soule be saff from synne at myn ende.
1494   W. Hilton Scala Perfeccionis (de Worde) i. xli. sig. dviv   Some by sorowe..some by prechyng & techyng..shall be saaf & come to blisse.
1563   N. Winȝet Certain Tractates (1888) I. 81   God makis ws sauff be the lawar of regeneratioun [Titus iii. 5].
1613   I. F. Christes Bloodie Sweat sig. D3   And beare the Crosse and conquer in like manner, Safe Souldiers fighting vnder Christ his banner.

c1300—1613(Hide quotations)

 

 2. In sound health, well; healed, cured, restored to health. Also safe and sound (see Phrases 1). Also with of. Now archaic and rare.

c1300   St. Leonard (Laud) l. 51 in C. Horstmann Early S.-Eng. Legendary (1887) 458   Þe Quen a-non þoruȝh is bone deliuered was of childe, In guod lif, and hire child al-so..Þe king i-say þe Quene sauf, and þat child al-so.
c1384   Bible (Wycliffite, E.V.) (Douce 369(2)) (1850) Luke xviii. 42   Thi feith hath maad thee saaf [L. te salvum fecit].
?c1450   Life St. Cuthbert (1891) l. 3661   Þe seke man with' his hand he blisse; Fra he him touched safe he was.
1486   Bk. St. Albans c vj b   Put som in the Roofe of her mowth and she shall be saafe.
a1500  (?a1425)    tr. Secreta Secret. (Lamb.) 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.
1526   Bible (Tyndale) Luke viii. f. lxxxix   Thy fayth hath made the safe.
1572   J. Sadler tr. Vegetius Foure Bks. Martiall Policye i. xx. f. 9v   For needes must he fight more boldlye, that beinge safe of breast and heade, standes not in feare of woundinge.
1795   Notes on Creech's Lucretius in Compl. Edition Poets Great Brit. XIII. 456/1   When any part of the body dies, or is cut off, the soul does not therfore die, nor is it therfore cut off: but remains safe and whole in the other sound and whole parts of the body.
 
1997   P. Stewart & J. Vaché tr. J.-J. Rousseau Julie iii. xxv. 325   My dear friend, I hope God will bring you back safe of body and heart from this long voyage.

c1300—1997(Hide quotations)

 
 3.

 a. In predicative use. Unhurt, uninjured, unharmed; having escaped or been preserved from some real or apprehended danger. Often with adverbial force, or understood as adv. (cf. safely adv. 1).

c1325  (c1300)    Chron. Robert of Gloucester (Calig.) l. 6895   Hire vet beþ þanne sauf wiþoute wemminge.
1340   Ayenbite (1866) 36   Þet hi habbe, huet cas yualle, hire catel sauf.
a1400  (a1325)    Cursor Mundi (Vesp.) l. 11546 (MED)   Þai ferd al sauf in to þair kyth.
c1405  (c1395)    G. Chaucer Canon's Yeoman's Tale (Ellesmere) (1875) G. §3. l. 950   Somtyme his good is drenched in the see And somtyme comth it sauf vn-to the londe.
?1473   W. Caxton tr. R. Le Fèvre Recuyell Hist. Troye (1894) I. lf. 108   Ye shall retorne saulf fro this entrepryse.
a1500  (?c1450)    Merlin xxvii. 559   That ye sholde yeve hym trewys saf to come and saf to go..be-twene this and yole.
a1538   T. Starkey Dial. Pole & Lupset (1989) 45   As gud marynerys..bryng theyr schype save out of tempestys into the sure port.
1600   in 10th Rep. Royal Comm. Hist. MSS (1885) App. v. 458   To retowrn saulfe without any molestacion.
1645   J. Winthrop Declar. Former Passages 3   Miantonimo earnestly desired he might not be taken out of his hands, promising he would send him safe to Uncas to be examined and punished.
1711   Boston News-let. 16 July 2/2   There is in all five thousand Men, who arrived all safe and in health, and Encamped on Noddles-Island.
1737   C. Pitt in J. Duncombe Lett. (1773) II. 98   The papers came safe to hand.
1785   W. Cowper Let. 7 Dec. (1981) II. 419   My desk..is safe arrived.
1831   Society 1 209   He always insists on seeing us safe across the Downs.
1865   Church of Eng. Mag. 25 Nov. 339/1   He..was with him in wild countries,..and went through great hardships; but they got back safe.
1902   O. Wister Virginian xix. 226   Your..man brought us out..safe and dry.
1969   N.Y. Mag. 24 Feb. 32/3   I got into the house... Nobody followed me. I was home safe.
2006   ‘N. Roberts’ Valley of Silence 238   ‘Are they back safe yet?’ ‘Coming in for touchdown.’

c1325—2006(Hide quotations)

 
 

 b. attributive. Of a journey: made without harm to the traveller; of a person's arrival: following such a journey.

c1450   C. d'Orleans Poems (1941) 35   He may attayne the ioyfulle port In self passage.
1531   Bp. W. Barlow Dyaloge Lutheran Faccyons sig. D2   Wee haue sore longyd for your safe retorne hopynge to here some newes from oure euangelyke brotherne of Germany.
1625–6   S. Purchas Pilgrimes II. 1165   And he sent me word that he was very glad with my safe arrival.
1658   T. Bromhall Treat. Specters i. 80   He promised that they should have a safe journey.
1704   J. Locke Let. 27 June in H. R. F. Bourne Life J. Locke (1876) II. 546   I hope..that I may congratulate your safe return, strong and trig as you were before.
?1786   St. Eustatius: Claim 17 App. (Lords Commissioners of Appeals in Prize Causes) 13   One Case..which I promise to reliver, if God grant me a safe Voyage.
1872   Church Missionary Intelligencer 8 317/1   The king had given him an escort of 100 horsemen to clear the road of Baktiaris; so the rest of my journey was quite safe.
1901   D. A. Tompkins Cotton & Cotton Oil 39   The wagon cover often required patching and the carpenter and smith must..do such other repairs as seemed to them necessary to insure a safe trip.
2010   Psychologies (U.K. ed.) Apr. 53/3   The best bit for me is being mid-ocean, with just the suggestion of being ‘lost’ troubling my mind but nevertheless holding fast to my belief in a safe arrival.

c1450—2010(Hide quotations)

 

 4. Mentally or morally sound or sane. Now archaic and rare.

1402   Will in R. W. Chambers & M. Daunt Bk. London Eng. (1931) 211 (MED)   I John Girdeler of Harfeld, in god mynde and saf memorye, make my testement.
1567   in F. J. Baigent Coll. Rec. & Documents Crondal (1891) 172   Any personne..beinge of the full age of twenty and one yeares, of saulf memorie.
?1577   J. Northbrooke Spiritus est Vicarius Christi: Treat. Dicing 64   Fewe men or women come from Playes and resorts of men with safe and chaste mindes.
a1616   W. Shakespeare Othello (1622) iv. i. 271   Are his wits safe? is he not light of braine?  View more context for this quotation
a1616   W. Shakespeare Cymbeline (1623) iv. ii. 132   No single soule Can we set eye on: but in all safe reason He must haue some Attendants.  View more context for this quotation
 
1885   J. R. Boise tr. Xenophon Four Bks. Anabasis (Lexicon) 109/2   σωφϱονέω, ῶ, -ήσω (σὠφϱωγ),..to be of safe mind, to be wise.
1919   School & Society 12 July 37/1   The balanced mind is always the sane and safe mind.
1974   R. Bagg in tr. Euripides Hippolytos Introd. 8   Phaidra..wishes in her sickness for a safe mind.

1402—1974(Hide quotations)

 
 II. Free from danger; secure.
 5.

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

c1325  (c1300)    Chron. Robert of Gloucester (Calig.) l. 8043 (MED)   Þe king..ostage him gan sende Þat he ssolde to him come al sauf in ech ende.
a1387   J. Trevisa tr. R. Higden Polychron. (St. John's Cambr.) (1869) II. 227   Þey bulde hem smale cootes and cabans..þat hire lyf myȝte be þe more saaf.
▸ ?1440   tr. Palladius De re Rustica (Duke Humfrey) (1896) xii. l. 363 (MED)   And wrie hem [sc. fruits] that noon ayer vppon hem shyne, So beth they saaf.
a1475   Revelations St. Birgitta (Garrett) (1929) 24 (MED)   That our thynges..may be safe, þer moste be sette a door on our house.
1591   E. Spenser Daphnaïda sig. B   Safe then and safest were my sillie sheepe, Ne fear'd the Wolfe.
a1616   W. Shakespeare Taming of Shrew (1623) v. ii. 156   Whil'st thou ly'st warme at home, secure and safe .  View more context for this quotation
a1616   W. Shakespeare Comedy of Errors (1623) i. ii. 105   I greatly feare my monie is not safe .  View more context for this quotation
1645   J. Winthrop Declar. Former Passages 4   These things being duly weighed, the Commissioners judged that Uncas could not be safe, while Miantonimo lived.
1707   J. Stevens tr. F. de Quevedo Comical Wks. (1709) 328   'Tis not safe trusting a Left Handed Man with Money.
1756   E. Perronet Mitre iii. cxli. 169   He sins amain—what next the tone? Why—safe his end—or else he's gone A non-elected soul!
1849   T. B. Macaulay Hist. Eng. I. v. 662   No second witness could be found... Cornish thought himself safe.
1849   T. B. Macaulay Hist. Eng. II. vii. 190   Apprehensions that the interests of the Anglican Church might not be safe under the rule of a man bred among Dutch Presbyterians.
1852   H. B. Stowe Uncle Tom's Cabin I. vii. 82   No, no, Harry darling! mother can't eat till you are safe!
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.
1906   Atlantic Monthly Mar. 319/1   No doubt she thought she was safe there and would not be seen.
1953   P. G. Wodehouse Performing Flea 190   He would shoot all round you till you felt like a knife-thrower's assistant, but you were really quite safe.
1990   A. S. Byatt Possession xxiii. 422   She had gone there for sanctuary. Why didn't she stay where she was safe?
2008   Outlook Money 30 July 66/2   Investors had no control over any part of the process and, often, did not even know if their money was safe.

c1325—2008(Hide quotations)

 

 b. With from, †of.

a1393   J. Gower Confessio Amantis (Fairf.) vii. l. 2029 (MED)   That he mesure in his expence So kepe, that of indigence He mai be sauf.
▸ ?1440   tr. Palladius De re Rustica (Duke Humfrey) (1896) i. l. 973 (MED)   Al the lond that thou hast goon aboute ffro cloudis wicke is saaf [c1450 Bodl. saue].
▸ ?1440   tr. Palladius De re Rustica (Duke Humfrey) (1896) i. l. 982 (MED)   Thy seedis with cucumber rotis grounde Let stepe, and saaf of euery mys they are.
1535   Bible (Coverdale) Job xxi. 9   Their houses are safe from all feare.
1573   E. Dering Lect. Part 5th Chapter Hebrues sig. F.ii   We should not then neede many exhortations, the remembraunce of the latter end would keepe vs safe from syn.
1577   B. Googe tr. C. Heresbach Foure Bks. Husbandry i. f. 33   Yf they be steeped in Capons blood, they wyll be safe from all hurtfull weedes.
1658   T. Bromhall Hist. Apparitions 182   When Caesar saw this, he ran to him, embraced him, and told him what his danger was; promising him, for that he knew it, he should be safe of it.
a1681   H. Burton Several Disc. (1684) I. ii. 214   He flatters himself as if he were safe from his Sin, when he is fast held in the Bonds of Iniquity.
1697   J. Dryden tr. Virgil Æneis vii, in tr. Virgil Wks. 432   Where then he liv'd obscure, but safe from Jove.
1801   Med. & Physical Jrnl. 5 403   That a person once infected with the small-pox is safe from having it a second time.
1867   G. MacDonald Ann. Quiet Neighbourhood I. v. 110   I did not feel safe from him till I was once more in my study.
1891   H. 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.
1920   G. W. James New Mexico xvi. 267   Under the teaching and guidance of Mother Church they were safe from damnation, here and hereafter.
1931   Good Housek. (U.S. ed.) Dec. 216/1 (advt.)    When I turn up the little trick cuffs, my stockings are as safe from spatters as if they stayed in the drawer.
1961   J. Stubblefield Davies's Introd. Palaeontol. (ed. 3) i. 5   Shut up within its shell or exoskeleton a brachiopod is comparatively safe from enemies.
1999   M. J. Clark Do you promise not to Tell? (2000) iii. 10   Safe from the curious stares of the eyes below,..there was privacy in the Churchill's skybox.

a1393—1999(Hide quotations)

 
 6.

 a. Of a place, means of defence, etc.: affording protection or security; proof against danger. Also with for.

a1393   J. Gower Confessio Amantis (Fairf.) ii. l. 181   Neptunus..kept hire in so sauf a place Fro Polipheme and his manace, That he..Ne mihte atteigne hir compaignie.
c1400   J. Gower Eng. Wks. (1901) II. 489 (MED)   The fortune of the werre is evere unknowe, Bot wher pes is, ther ben the marches save.
?1560   T. Norton Orations of Arsanes sig. C.iiij   Our king, in whose dominions they haue had safe refuge from the sword of their homebred enemy.
1583   G. Peckham True Rep. Newfound Landes iv. sig. E.iv   The cheefest cause why our Englishmen doo not goe so farre westerly..is for that they haue no succour and known safe harbour in those partes.
a1616   W. Shakespeare Comedy of Errors (1623) i. ii. 78   Answer me, In what safe place you haue bestow'd my monie.  View more context for this quotation
1659   W. Chamberlayne Pharonnida i. i. sig. v   A stately Stag,..Forc'd from the Forests safe protection.
1697   J. Dryden tr. Virgil Georgics iv, in tr. Virgil Wks. 140   A Station safe for Ships, when Tempests roar.  View more context for this quotation
1740   W. Stephens Jrnl. 27 Oct. in Jrnl. Proc. Georgia (1742) III. 20   The two Frigates..being apprehensive of the hurricane Season, retired into a safe Harbour at Charles-Town.
1783   J. Hoole tr. L. Ariosto Orlando Furioso I. vii. 221   This ring, a safe defence from spelful art.
1807   E. S. Barrett Rising Sun III. xxxvii. 48   Owing to the unskilfulness of her pilots,..it was quite uncertain when she would be moored in a safe port.
1859   F. Nightingale Notes on Nursing i. 12   The safest atmosphere of all for a patient is a good fire and an open window.
1870   C. Dickens Edwin Drood viii. 51   That part of the world is at a safe distance.
1917   W. Wilson in Sel. Addr. (1918) 195   The world must be made safe for democracy.
1936   Quill & Quire Oct. 14/2   Book Tokens accepted for exchange must be kept in a safe place.
1984   C. Hitching & D. Stone Understanding Accounting ii. 8   There are not many places ‘safer’ than a building society in which we could invest our money.
2010   Independent 10 Apr. (Mag.) 24/1   One of the most seemingly worthwhile acts of voluntary service available to us today—keeping our streets safe.

a1393—2010(Hide quotations)

 

 b. Affording security from theft, loss, escape, etc. Chiefly in safe custody, safe stowage. Cf. safekeeping n., safe ward n.  [With safe custody compare classical Latin custodia tuta, tutissima custodia, post-classical Latin custodia salva (1231, c1314 in British sources).]

1536   T. Cromwell in R. B. Merriman Life & Lett. T. Cromwell (1902) II. 9   To kepe the same Offeley in your salve custodye.
a1616   W. Shakespeare Cymbeline (1623) i. vi. 193   And I am something curious, being strange To haue them in safe stowage .  View more context for this quotation
1651   T. Hobbes Leviathan ii. xxviii. 164   The safe custody of a man accused.
1701   S. Hill Rights, Liberties, & Authorities Christian Church vii. lii. 327   He desires him to send the Bishops..under safe Custody to the Emperour.
1849   T. B. Macaulay Hist. Eng. II. viii. 357   A warrant..directing the Lieutenant of the Tower to keep them [sc. seven Bishops] in safe custody.
1896   Trans. Inst. Naval Architects 37 371   The object of the Act and of any plan of loading is the same, i.e., safe stowage.
1904   J. A. Meelboom & C. F. Hannaford Bank Bookkeeping & Accts. (ed. 2) iii. 76   A bank has no general lien on securities deposited for safe custody only.
1945   M. Heuvelmans Cargo Deadweight Distribution 58   Safe stowage and despatch are..closely interwoven with the problem of weight distribution.
2002   J. Cerone in M. Bothe & B. Kondoch Internat. Peacekeeping 7 55   Women are reportedly placed in ‘safe-custody’ on a judge's approval of a police application.

1536—2002(Hide quotations)

 

 c. Affording guaranteed immunity from arrest, capture, attack, etc. Chiefly in safe convoy, safe passage.After earlier safe conduct n., safeguard n., etc.

1636   W. Sampson Vow Breaker iii. iii. sig. F3   Monlucke..Desires safe convoy by your honours forces.
1647   N. Bacon Hist. Disc. Govt. 61   This priviledge of safe passe being..ancient and fundamentall,..resteth still in force.
1649   O. Cromwell Let. 24 Nov. in Lett. & Speeches (1884) III. App. xv. 344   I have by this Bearer returned a Safe-convoy, as you desire, for what Commissioners you think fit to send out to me.
c1665   L. Hutchinson Mem. Col. Hutchinson (1973) 96   Major Cartwright sent a letter desiring the governor or his brother to come and meete him in St. Nicholas Church, and promised them safe passage and returne.
1810   S. T. Coleridge Friend (1865) 82   Charles V had pronounced the ban upon him [sc. Luther] and limited his safe convoy to one and twenty days.
1917   Outlook 8 Aug. 534/1   The other object, safe passage for Italian ships in the Adriatic, is obstructed by the strategic advantages of Austria.
1921   W. S. Sims in Naval Investig. (Comm. Naval Affairs, U.S. Senate) I. 166   Assisting in the safe and prompt dispatch of troops and supplies to France, and safe convoy out of France.
1996   P. I. Kaufman Church, Bk., & Bishop v. 107   Some threads from a cloth covering the coffin..were to be his safe convoy into and defense..against the rough-and-tumble of the Touraine factions and feuds.
2003   C. Rubenberg Palestinians iii. 116   The immediate creation of a safe passage between the West Bank and Gaza to enable Palestinians to pass through Israeli territory.

1636—2003(Hide quotations)

 
 7.

 a. With of. Sure to obtain. Now rare.

1538   M. Coverdale tr. M. Luther Expos. Magnificat sig. D.viii   Such a God, as doth not despyse the poore, despysed & vyle, but wyteth them safe of hys owne syghte, that so hys harte be stablyshed in fayth, hope and charite.
?1614   G. Chapman tr. Homer Odysses iii. 36   Euery Myrmidon..safe of home.
1667   S. Pepys Diary 23 Aug. (1974) VIII. 398   I find most people pleased with their being at ease and safe of a peace.
1802   R. Southey La Caba 3   Here I stand, Safe of my purpose now!
1846   W. M. 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.
1874   For Beauty's Sake ii. 25   He is safe of a warm welcome from me.
1911   P. H. Brown Hist. Scotl. I. iii. ii. 113   Macduff was not slow to carry his tale where he knew he was safe of a favourable hearing.

1538—1911(Hide quotations)

 
 b. Certain to happen or be the case (esp. with reference to the outcome of a contest, examination, selection process, etc.).

 (a) Predicatively, usually followed by an infinitive (or formerly for and a gerund). Now somewhat rare. Cf. sure adj. 10b.

1790   F. Grose Provinc. Gloss. (ed. 2) Suppl.   ‘He is safe enough for being hanged.’ Cumb.
1825   Times 22 Sept. 2/6   He was put down as safe to win, the others being entirely out of the question.
1860   G. J. Whyte-Melville Market Harborough 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 I. viii. 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’.
1901   K. M. Caffyn Happenings of Jill xxiv. 271   Even should he miss a bishopric, he's safe to be a dean.
1953   Times 12 May 9/6   Miss Connolly looked safe to win comfortably after taking the first set and leading 3–0 in the second.
1987   T. Clark Bed at Tor House in Disordered Ideas 23   He waited by the sea safe to finish what he had to finish.

1790—1987(Hide quotations)

 

 (b) colloquial. attributive, as safe first, safe thing, etc. Cf. safe bet n. at Compounds 2, sure thing n.

1859   T. Hughes in Macmillan's Mag. Dec. 91/2   He'll be a safe first, though I don't believe he reads more than you or I.
1875   M. E. Braddon Hostages to Fortune II. x. 151   They say he's dipped deeply in this Bolivian business, and that it's a safe thing.
1892   Chambers's Jrnl. 3 Dec. 774/2   He was a safe First in History, and hot favourite for the Lothian.
1900   W. E. W. Collins Scholar of College viii. 118   It by no means followed as a matter of course that a scholarship at St Hilary's implied a safe first in Moderations.
1913   E. Wharton Custom of Country xxxiv. 453   Her manifest ignorance of business methods had the effect of making his vagueness appear less vague. ‘Anyhow, he seems to be sure it's a safe thing.’
1973   Routledge Dict. Hist. Slang 791/1   ‘He is a safe second’, i.e. he is sure to obtain second-class honours.

1859—1973(Hide quotations)

 
 8.

 a. Presenting no risk of physical harm; posing no threat, not dangerous.

?1545   C. Langton Introd. Phisycke ii. f. xviiiv   It is daungerous medlyng with poysons: I graunt that, & therfore it is moch safer, to laye them as a playster, to some vtter part of your skyn, where as they can not hurte.
1580   J. Lyly Euphues & his Eng. (new ed.) f. 79v   As safe.., as sleeping in the grasse Trifole, where..no Serpent..dare venture.
a1616   W. Shakespeare Macbeth (1623) ii. iii. 141   This murtherous Shaft that's shot, Hath not yet lighted: and our safest way, Is to auoid the ayme.
1680   Lady Russell Lett. I. iii. 11   The Iesuits' Powder is..held most safe to be taken by the best doctors.
1774   Med. & Philos. Comm. 1 261   He is of the opinion, that the disease, if not repelled, is not dangerous; that, if joined with catarrh, it is not so safe as when without it.
1816   National Reg. 2 Mar. 4/1   This method of lighting houses..is safer; not liable to the accident of a candle falling, or lighted snuff dropping out of the snuffers.
1843   Punch 5 173/2   If a dog be mad he will not take water. To ascertain this, offer him some London milk, and if he lap it, you may be sure he is perfectly safe.
1902   Indiana Bull. June 53   We are expected to look after persons who are not safe to be around.
1970   Times 7 Feb. 3/3   Army and Navy explosives experts were called in to make the bomb safe.
2000   New Scientist 5 Aug. 52/1   The water used to make up infant formula should be safe for babies to drink.

?1545—2000(Hide quotations)

 
 

 b. Of a course of action, plan, etc.: not attended by risk of failure; without disadvantages, prudent.

1577   H. I. tr. H. Bullinger 50 Godlie Serm. II. iii. Ep. Ded. sig. Aa.vv   This doctrine at all times, & in all pointes agreeable to it selfe is safest to be followed.
1589   R. Lane in R. Hakluyt Princ. Navigations 740   Thus much I signified vnto them, as the safest way: neuerthelesse, I did referre it to the greatest number of voyces, whether we should aduenture thes pending of our whole victuall..or otherwise to retyre our selues backe againe.
1625   F. Bacon Ess. (new ed.) 86   An Embleme, no doubt, to shew, how safe it is for Monarchs, to make sure of the good Will of Common People.
1651   T. Hobbes Leviathan ii. xxvii. 151   It is safer to erre on that hand, than on the other.
1720   D. Defoe Mem. Cavalier 45   'Tis never safe to despise an Enemy.
a1745   J. Swift On Death of Mrs. Johnson in Wks. (1765) VIII. 259   Perhaps, she was sometimes too severe, which is a safe and pardonable error.
1791   W. Cowper tr. Homer Odyssey in Iliad & Odyssey II. xxiii. 150   To me the safest counsel and the best.
1851   W. Bolland Cricket Notes v. 87   The safest plan is to stipulate..that the disputed man shall not be put on at either end—as a doubtful bowler should never be permitted.
1863   W. Phillips Speeches xi. 254   This is Choate, who made it safe to murder.
1919   M. C. Stopes Let. to Working Mothers 14   Some men like to use a sheath, and this is quite a safe method.
1973   Backpacker Spring 4/3   We believe it is safer not to encourage more backpacking until we know more about the impact that the increased numbers are now having.
2001   P. Duncan Moon Women i. 19   Supper had to be a hot meal, and breakfast-for-supper was the easiest and safest thing to make.

1577—2001(Hide quotations)

 
 9.

 a. Sure in procedure; not liable to fail, mislead, or disappoint expectation; reliable, trustworthy; in later use spec. in Cricket. Cf. a safe pair of hands at hand n. Phrases 3a.

1559   P. Morwyng tr. C. Gesner Treasure of Euonymus 335   The best & safest help in this disease..is arsnik sublimated whose notable vertues we haue alredy made mencion of oftentymes before.
a1616   W. Shakespeare Othello (1622) ii. iii. 198   My blood begins my safer guides to rule.  View more context for this quotation
1667   J. Milton Paradise Lost xi. 371   Ascend, I follow thee, safe Guide, the path Thou lead'st me.  View more context for this quotation
1678   R. Cudworth True Intellect. Syst. Universe i. iii. 170   That safe and sure-footed Interpreter, Alex. Aphrodisius.
1733   G. Cheyne Eng. Malady ii. xi. 231   Throwing them [sc. the fluids] off by the safest and most patent Outlets.
1793   H. Mackenzie Addit. Lett. Brutus xii. 111   Necessity, or an experience next to necessity, is the only safe teacher of practical truths in particular governments.
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.
1874   J. D. Heath Compl. Croquet-player 53   Remember that the dead ball is not so safe a helper as your partner.
1887   A. Birrell Obiter Dicta 2nd Ser. 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. 16   ‘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.
2009   Guardian (Nexis) 29 Sept. 1   The speech..is being crafted to show Brown has not just been a safe steward of the world economy.

1559—2009(Hide quotations)

 

 b. Excessively cautious; unadventurous, unimaginative; bland, boring.

1830   Museum of Foreign Lit. Dec. 523/1   Whilst all that he did showed the most admirable sense and judgment, he never said a word that rose above the level of the merest common-place, vapid, inoffensive, dull, and safe.
1896   E. W. Donald Expansion of Relig. v. 245   There is no art, no poetry, no outlook, no vision, and ambition is dead. A safe, unenterprising, material prosperity of low degree is all that the oldest and most successful of our communistic communities can show.
1901   Athenæum 6 July 35/2   The author is rather safe than striking, and he has nothing new to say concerning the history of ancient philosophy.
1988   San Francisco Chron. 25 Mar. e11   The air of contrivance..makes them a bore to look at. They look uninspired and artistically safe whether you regard them as abstract, figurative or architectural.
2004   E. Vincentelli ABBA Gold 37   Beginning a greatest-hits collection with the best-known song is satisfying, sure, but also a bit safe.

1830—2004(Hide quotations)

 
 10.
 

 a. Of an analysis, conclusion, etc.: free of errors or flaws; accurate, sound; authoritative.

1597   F. Bacon Of Coulers Good & Euill f. 17v, in Ess.   To make a true and safe iudgement, nothing can be of greater vse and defence to the minde, then the discouering and reprehension of these coulers.
1642   D. Lupton Warre-like Treat. Pike x. 122   That's no safe conclusion, to say that all old things are the best.
a1665   J. Goodwin Πλήρωμα τὸ Πνευματικόv (1670) xiii. 376   Whether it be better and safer to Neutralize between these two Opinions, and hang in suspense.
1766   T. H. Croker et al. Compl. Dict. Arts & Sci. III. at Urim and Thummim   The safest opinion, according to Broughton, seems to be, that the words urim and thummim signify some divine virtue and power.
1788   A. Hamilton Federalist Papers xxi. 126   To form a safe and satisfactory judgment of the proper remedy, it is absolutely necessary that we should be well acquainted with the extent and malignity of the disease.
1853   C. A. Dana U.S. Illustr. 136   There is no safe judgment of these acts, until we have Mr. Girard's measure; and that is not to be got at a glance.
1884   Kansas Hort. Rep. 13 83   The Board cannot form a safe or correct decision of the merits or value of any class of fruit without the opportunity of an examination of samples.
1960   Countryman (Perth, Austral.) 7 Jan. 36/4   The safest conclusion is that the early strains..are the most valuable in nearly all districts.
1995   Jrnl. Royal Statist. Soc. D. 44 5   The immediate challenge is to see what tools can be developed that can provide a useful but reasonably safe analysis of the spatial data resources that now exist.

1597—1995(Hide quotations)

 

 b. With reference to an assertion or assumption: not likely to be wrong; founded on good reasons or evidence. Hence applied to the person making the assertion. Frequently in it is safe to say , to be safe in saying . Cf. safely adv. 2b.

1608   Bp. J. Hall Epist. I. i. iv. 30   I thinke it safe to say, that seldome euer those yeares haue promised, seldom haue performed so much.
1642   R. Baker tr. V. Malvezzi Disc. upon Tacitus xxxix. 403   I cannot but account my assertion safe; having Aristotle, Plato, and Pythagoras of my side.
a1749   B. Holme Coll. Epist. & Wks. (1754) ix. Pref. 122   I hope I may be safe in saying, all Signs end in their Substance.
1795   H. Cowley Town before You iii. ii. 43   I am safe in saying that, for I am sure Lady Horatia will not marry a beggar.
1814   Niles' Weekly Reg. 20 Aug. 418/2   At any rate, it is safe to say that the states and districts first named, have that distance of water communication.
1840   Biblical Repertory Apr. 296   We are surely safe in presuming that our readers are well acquainted with the vigour of intellect, and the deep and scriptural piety which characterize this great man's writings.
1884   Liverpool Mercury 18 Feb. 5/2   One is perfectly safe in saying that the position of the defendants has relatively improved.
1905   Chem. Engineer Aug. 236   It is a safe assumption that the thicker the paint film, the less its permeability.
1944   A. Huxley Let. 9 July (1969) 507   One can be safe in betting that, within ten years, there will be rockets, or jet-propelled flying bombs,..capable of flying any distance up to five thousand miles.
1978   W. F. Buckley Stained Glass xx. 200   I would still think it safe to assume you would not be questioned during the day.
2001   D. L. Schlinder Heart of World iv. 145   I begin with the general—and apparently safe—assertion that the critical methods and scholarship of the contemporary academy..are not neutral.
2008   T. F. Madden Empires of Trust vi. 135   It is safe to say..that by 188 bc the Greek world knew all about the Romans.

1608—2008(Hide quotations)

 
 

 c. Of evidence, an example, etc.: that may be cited or used with confidence; inarguably correct or apt; strong, good.

1645   E. Pagitt Heresiogr. 99   If I crucifie the flesh in my owne strength, it is no safe evidence of my being in Christ.
1701   W. Mather Vindic. W. Mather & Wife 74   In a Controversie of such Moment, presumptive Evidence is neither safe, nor satisfactory to either side.
1778   Crit. Rev. 46 388   Whether bears and martins were met with on both sides of the equator, our author cannot assert on any safe and authentic evidence.
1814   Rhode-Island Literary Repository Dec. 489   The Argonautic expedition might be deemed the only safe example of perfect navigation.
1888   J. Rickaby First Princ. Knowl. iv. 59   It borrows, to exemplify its teaching, only safe instances.
1922   J. W. H. Atkins in Owl & Nightingale 129 (note)    Since the beginning of the 11th century the form were (for wer (nom.)) frequently occurs, and after 1200 no safe case of wer is found.
1931   Amer. Jrnl. Sci. 221 8   No one criterion is a safe basis for the determination of retrogressive metamorphism.
1980   C. Hill Some Intellect. Consequences Eng. Revol. iii. 27   He prudently used the safe example of Athens to argue that conquests are best made by a popular government.
2010   F. von Mengden Cardinal Numerals i. 61   We will have to go far back into reconstructed stages of a language—a historical distance which does not always provide safe evidence.

1645—2010(Hide quotations)

 

d. Unquestionably true; established as fact. Obsolete. rare.

1788   J. 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.

1788—1788(Hide quotations)

 

 e. Law (chiefly British). Of a verdict, esp. a conviction: not liable to be overturned; sustainable; (of the evidence in a case) sufficient for such a verdict to be reached. Cf. unsafe adj. Additions 4.In later use sometimes in safe and satisfactory; cf. satisfactory adj. 5.

1795   Z. Swift Syst. Laws Connecticut II. iv. xvii. 186   This leads to a train if probable and presumptive proof, upon which a conviction may be very safe.
1846   Ann. Reg. 1845 Chron. 30/1   The wretched woman was acquitted, the evidence of the elder child, on account of the tenderness of her age, not being deemed safe for a capital conviction.
1869   Times 6 Mar. 4/6   The evidence fell short of that degree of proof that would render a conviction safe.
1944   Irish Times 6 July 1/5   I do not think such a conviction would be a safe conviction.
1967   Criminal Appeal Rep. 51 25   Do his replies to the police..amount to a sufficiently safe and satisfactory case?
1996   Scotsman (Electronic ed.) 18 Dec.   On both occasions the convictions were found to be safe and satisfactory.
2009   Western Morning News (Nexis) 18 Aug. 11   He has..withdrawn his appeal against conviction. So we have to read into it that this was a fair trial and the verdict was safe.

1795—2009(Hide quotations)

 
 

 11. 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. Cf. safe bind (and) safe find at Phrases 5.

c1604   Charlemagne (1938) ii. 38   What, madam? is he salve asleepe? Most soundlye, Sir.
a1616   W. Shakespeare Macbeth (1623) iii. iv. 24   But Banquo's safe? Mur. I, my good Lord: safe in a ditch he bides.  View more context for this quotation
a1616   W. Shakespeare Tempest (1623) iii. i. 21   My Father Is hard at study; pray now rest your selfe, Hee's safe for these three houres.  View more context for this quotation
1619   E. M. Bolton tr. Florus Rom. Hist. iii. x. 308   Cæsar was at this time absent out of Gallia,..and so the wayes cloyed vppe, they presumed hee was fast, and safe enough.
1623   W. Shakespeare & J. Fletcher Henry VIII v. iii. 130   Receiue him, And see him safe i' th' Tower.  View more context for this quotation
1667   J. Milton Paradise Lost ix. 815   And other care perhaps May have diverted from continual watch Our great Forbidder, safe with all his Spies About him.  View more context for this quotation
1678   R. L'Estrange tr. Epistles v. 41 in Seneca's Morals Abstracted (1679)    When the Snake is Frozen, 'tis Safe.
1750   in T. Newton Milton's Paradise Lost (ed. 2) ix. 191   Safe signifies here as in the vulgar phrases, I have him safe, or he is safe asleep: where not the safety of the person secur'd or asleep is meant, but the safety of others with respect to any danger from him.
1797   S. J. Pratt Family Secrets IV. xxxviii. 365   Your cruel father is now safe asleep, love, and you may come home to your own bed.
1810   Gammer Gurton's Garland 6   You parents that have children dear,..If you will have them safe abroad, Pray keep them safe at home.
1838   Amer. Turf Reg. & Sporting Mag. Aug. 371   I have him safe in the landing-net at last.
1885   J. H. McCarthy Eng. under Gladstone (ed. 2) xi. 196   While he was proudly boasting that he had all the discontented and the dangerous in prison, safe under lock and key, the real danger existed unknown to him.
1914   McClure's Mag. July 76/1   I know now why the neighbors thought they'd seen me out walking after nightfall, when we knew I was safe in bed.
1950   R. Macaulay World my Wilderness xv. 122   ‘I helped him as far as I could.’ ‘By telling him she stole?’..‘Oh, it's quite safe with Angus, he won't let it go any further.’
1976   M. Hauser Talking Room 106   Rather would she see J safe behind bars than dangerously on the loose.
2004   M. E. Robins Petty Treason xv. 227   Happily, no one can suspect Anne d' Aubigny of this crime: she is safe in gaol.

c1604—2004(Hide quotations)

 

 12. Politics. Of a parliamentary seat, electoral district, etc.: likely to be retained by a politician or political party at an election. Cf. safe seat n. at Compounds 2.

1836   C. G. F. Gore Mrs. Armytage II. 142   In these revolutionary times,..no seat is safe.
1865   Union Rev. 3 449   Sir W. Heathcote's seat is safe... And we have no doubt whatsoever that Mr Gathorne Hardy will be returned by at least a clear majority of two hundred.
1906   Proc. Mass. Hist. Soc. June 400   Tiverton, a safe little borough from which he could securely count on getting himself returned.
1968   Globe & Mail (Toronto) 22 June 8/1   Another 10 seats look equally safe for the Tories.
1992   H. Robertson On Hill: People's Guide to Canada's Parl. 72   Nominations are often hotly contested, especially when the seat is considered safe.
2010   Sacramento (Calif.) Bee 4 Sept. a12   The Jan. 4 election is unlikely to be a nip-and-tuck affair since it is a safe Republican district.

1836—2010(Hide quotations)

 

 13. slang (originally South African). Good, excellent; okay, all right. Also as int.An element of the more specific senses ‘trustworthy’ or ‘not dangerous’ (cf. senses 9a, 8a) is often still present in this sense.

1970   in Dict. S. Afr. Eng. on Hist. Princ. (1996) (at cited word)   Wow, that new dance is safe... A safe band is playing at the jeet tonight.
1974   J. Matthews Park 25   Orkas looked up at her and smiled. ‘Jammie say yer my number forra five-titty’, Orkas said. ‘Safe?’
1976   Darling (S. Afr.) 29 Sept.   Give me a safe ensemble and a new hairstyle..and I can slay the ou's with the rest of them.
1981   Fair Lady (S. Afr.) 9 Sept.   A circle made with the forefinger and thumb and accompanied by a conspiratorial wink is obligatory when saying ‘Safe, my mate!’
1991   Sunday Tel. 8 Sept. 10/8   Pc Johnson, the popular local policeman, is chatting to some of the boys. ‘He's safe [all right]’, says 20-year-old David Davies. ‘Most of them are. It's just when they bring the specials from Reading and Swindon.’
1999   A. Wheatle Brixton Rock 188   ‘Yeah. I have to go back inside for a pen so I can write down my phone number.’ ‘Yeah, safe.’
2010   B. Agbaje Off Endz vi. 32   Safe, bruv! I owe you one.

1970—2010(Hide quotations)

 

Phrases

 P1. safe and sound (also occasionally †sound and safe).
 

 a. Unharmed, unhurt. Cf. sense 3a.

a1375  (c1350)    William of Palerne (1867) l. 2816 (MED)   Þei were gretli glad..þat he sauf was & sou[n]d fro þe men a-schaped.
a1398   J. Trevisa tr. Bartholomaeus Anglicus De Proprietatibus Rerum (BL Add. 27944) (1975) II. xvii. cii. 994   Dede bodies ben ykepte saue and sounde whanne þey ben ybawmed wiþ confecciouns of mirra.
a1400  (a1325)    Cursor Mundi (Vesp.) l. 7867 (MED)   Sauf and sond ai mot þou be To all þe folk es vnder þe.
a1500  (?a1390)    J. Mirk Festial (Gough) (1905) 17   And soo he ȝede sonde and saf hys way.
1585   T. Washington tr. N. de Nicolay Nauigations Turkie ii. ix. 42 b   [He] was by a Dolphin brought safe and sound to the porte.
1610   P. Holland tr. W. Camden Brit. i. 635   Gobanivm,..keeping the ancient name, as it were, safe and sound is tearmed Aber-Gevenny.
1703   M. Martin Descr. W. Islands Scotl. 79   It is lawful for any of the Inhabitants to steal his Neighbours Horse the Night before the race,..provided he deliver him safe and sound to the Owner after the race.
1849   G. Grote Hist. Greece VI. ii. l. 327   He would again replace him ‘safe and sound’ in the fortification.
1890   tr. C. Letourneau Biology ii. xii. 182   The actinia devoured by a larger individual..is often revomited safe and sound.
1937   L. Jones Cwmardy vi. 85   There be no man or devil..can shift me from by here until I see my James safe and sound.
2000   ‘L. Child’ Running Blind xiv. 160   As far as Reacher knew, you were still right here in town... He doesn't know you're safe and sound in London.

a1375—2000(Hide quotations)

 
 

 b. In good health, well. Cf. sense 2.

a1375  (c1350)    William of Palerne (1867) l. 868 (MED)   He was al sauf & sound of alle his sor greues.
a1400  (a1325)    Cursor Mundi (Vesp.) l. 8170   ‘Thoru þe,’ he said, ‘sal þis mesele, Be sauf and sund of al vn-hele.’
 
1837   Dublin Univ. Mag. Dec. 674/1   I will neither eat nor drink till I hear what the doctor will say about her... May Jasus guard her, and spare her safe and sound to us.
1911   W. C. Gorgas in R. L. Owen Yellow Fever v. 241   If a man exposed to yellow fever..passed through six days safe and sound he was known to have escaped that particular exposure.
2002   Vegetarian Times Nov. 45 (heading)    Safe and Sound. Avoid the risks of HRT with these natural alternatives.

a1375—2002(Hide quotations)

 

 c. colloquial. With be, arrive, etc.: with the weakened sense ‘duly arrived’. Cf. Phrases 8.

1848   Fraser's Mag. Oct. 460/2   He caught the up-train, he arrived safe and sound in town.
1882   G. A. Sala Amer. Revisited (1885) ii. 25   I was safe and sound in the Brevoort coach.
1887   Cent. Mag. Dec. 197/2   I promised to bring you both to lunch, safe and sound.
1913   N. Munro in Evening News (Glasgow) 3 Mar. 2/5   ‘Never mind aboot that the noo,’ said Erchie; ‘the aerial squadron from Farnborough for Montrose..landed safe and sound on Thursday last.’
1998   P. Theroux tr. I. Ali Dongola iii. iii. 98   The train is gone... He'll arrive safe and sound tomorrow.

1848—1998(Hide quotations)

 
 

 P2. with (a) safe conscience    [after classical Latin salvā conscientiā] : with a clear conscience. Cf. sense 4.

a1393   J. Gower Confessio Amantis (Fairf.) iv. l. 917   I mai wel with sauf conscience Excuse me of necgligence Towardes love in alle wise.
1549   H. Latimer 1st Serm. before Kynges Grace sig. Di   The which treasure, if it be not sufficiente, he maye lawfullye and wyth a salue consience, take taxis of hys subiectes.
1560   J. Daus tr. J. Sleidane Commentaries f. viv   To reuoke his sentence already taught and defended, he can not with a safe conscience [L. cum bona conscientia].
a1616   W. Shakespeare Julius Caesar (1623) i. i. 13   A Trade Sir, that I hope I may vse, with a safe Conscience .  View more context for this quotation
1700   W. Congreve Way of World v. i. 73   So as long as it was not a Bible-Oath, we may break it with a safe Conscience.
1767   C. Smart tr. Horace Odes ii. iv, in tr. Horace Wks. (new ed.) I. 155   Her face, her limbs so form'd t'engage, I praise with a safe conscience still.
a1817   J. Austen Northanger Abbey (1818) I. xiii. 231   Now we may all go to-morrow with a safe conscience .  View more context for this quotation
1865   Dublin Rev. Jan. 61   Gregory XVI., as is well known, answered a formal inquiry by saying that Catholics might, with a perfectly safe conscience, assent to the Belgian constitution.
1918   J. C. Davies Baronial Opposition to Edward II i. xii. 290   A conference was held..as to whether the lords could with safe conscience retain the lands of the Templars.
1985   Times 26 Feb. 14/6   I can say with a safe conscience that..there will be no matching broadcasting services here, there, or anywhere, at 18p a day.
2005   Sun (Nexis) 7 July   You can go abroad with a safe conscience.

a1393—2005(Hide quotations)

 

 P3. safe and soon (also soon and safe): unharmed and with little delay. Cf. sense 3a.

a1393   J. Gower Confessio Amantis (Fairf.) ii. l. 2188 (MED)   So that thei mihten sauf and sone The water passe.
a1616   W. Shakespeare Comedy of Errors (1623) i. i. 48   And soone, and safe, [she] arriued where I was.  View more context for this quotation
1839   Tait's Edinb. Mag. July 476/1   Soon and safe may you return, for the prayer of the fatherless and widow will be along wid yees.
1867   Leisure Hour 1 Oct. 626/2   You must leave your house and land..and go far away among the cold uncivil strangers. But you will come back safe and soon.
1917   S. Calif. Practitioner Oct. 161/2   The war is..taking away many of our best physicians, surgeons, and specialists. May they all return soon and safe.
2005   in C. H. Cash Table in Presence viii. 164   I hope you all get back safe and soon. The whole country..depends on you our soldiers.

a1393—2005(Hide quotations)

 

 P4. safe and sure (also †sure and safe), †safe and sicker (also †sicker and safe (sicker adj.)), †quit and safe: unharmed, free from molestation; not liable to be harmed, secure. Also: not liable to cause harm. See also safe and sound at Phrases 1, safe and soon at Phrases 3.

a1398   J. Trevisa tr. Bartholomaeus Anglicus De Proprietatibus Rerum (BL Add. 27944) (1975) II. xiv. iii. 697   Whan þe wylde bestes ben yhuntid with hunters in þe valeye, þey flee to þe monteins and ben þer syker and sauf.
c1425  (c1400)    Laud Troy-bk. l. 18201 (MED)   Off no-thing were thei a-dredde; Thei wende thei hadde ben saue & sure.
▸ 1440   Promptorium Parvulorum (Harl. 221) 440   Saaf, and sekyr, salvus.
a1449   in S. A. Moore Lett. & Papers J. Shillingford (1871) ii. 88   Other thyng more of the saide cite ther to be kept stronge saf and sure.
1490   W. Caxton tr. Foure Sonnes of Aymon (1885) i. 29   I shall lete you goo quyte & sauf.
?c1500   J. Blount tr. N. Upton Essent. Portions De Studio Militari (1931) 23   We geve & graunte by these present letters to gyles of vytrey knyght free lycence, salue & sure condute, [etc.].
1567   G. Turberville tr. Ovid Heroycall Epist. f. 125   There may Leander make a safe and sicker stay.
1582   S. Batman Vppon Bartholome, De Proprietatibus Rerum 380   The Eagle dwelleth sure and safe in most high places.
1582   S. Batman Vppon Bartholome, De Proprietatibus Rerum 791   One of them [sc. the young scorpions] leapeth on the thigh of the Scorpionesse, and sitteth there safe & sure from the stinging of the taile.
1633   T. Stafford Pacata Hibernia i. viii. 58   And his sonnes bound very safe and sure.
1715   C. Bullock Slip iii   All's sure and safe, on with your Vizzard, Sir.
1878   Mrs. H. Wood in Argosy 24 201   We are all safe and sure, Caromel; not a hint shall escape us.
1960   Daily Mirror 21 June 11   Used by doctors, Larson's is safe and sure. Contains no drugs.

a1398—1960(Hide quotations)

 

 P5. Proverb. safe bind (and) safe find : a possession always left secure will always be found safe. Cf. sense 11. Now rare.

1570   T. Tusser Hundreth Good Pointes Husbandry (new ed.) f. 32   Drye Sunne or drye wynde..Safe binde and safe finde.
1718   M. Prior Poems Several Occasions (new ed.) 293   Safe bind, Says the old Proverb, and Safe find.
1775   Adventures of Corkscrew ii. 24   I have seen enough of the world to know the signfication of the words, Safe bind, safe find.
1841   Roberts' Semi-monthly Mag. 1 Sept. 635/1   I do not know that I might not steal them myself, if they were not my own. Safe bind safe find, Master Morin... I never leave any one in my shop when I am out of it.
1938   H. F. M. Prescott Dead & not Buried x. 110   One of those who believe that they who safe bind, safe find. One lock, two bolts and a chain had to be dealt with.
1953   J. Coulson tr. F. Dostoevsky Crime & Punishm. ii. iv. 130   It will be better if I keep the things: safe bind, safe find; and if something happens,..I can hand them in.
2005   A. Jaimoukha Chechens xvi. 243   Safe bind, safe find. Caution is the parent of safety.

1570—2005(Hide quotations)

 
 P6. Similative phrases.
 

 a. (as) safe as —— : in complete security or concealment (by comparison to various things considered very safe).

1582   S. Gosson Playes Confuted Ep. Ded. sig. A   I when I sleepe shall be as safe, as the childe in his cradle.
1639   J. Clarke Paroemiologia 47   As safe as a mouse in a malt-heape.
1786   G. M. A. Baretti Tolondron 222   So far, le Baron de Tolondrognac is as safe, as an escargot in his winter-shell.
1894   S. Baring-Gould Queen of Love 280   ‘I feared all was gone.’ ‘It is safe as the Bank of England.’
1919   ‘K. Mansfield’ Let. 26 Oct. (1993) III. 48   You simply must not worry about me. I am as safe as a rock.
2009   J. Kernan Dream Stalker 246   Sebastian smiled, a rueful, cocky smile that made Michaela feel safe as a baby lion between its mother's paws.

1582—2009(Hide quotations)

 
 

 b. (as) safe as a bug in a rug: secure from harm; cf. snug as a bug in a rug (snug adj.1 2b).

a1815   W. Hutton Life & Hist. Family (1816) 137   The doctor..said, ‘You are as safe as a bug in a rug’.
1878   E. B. Tuttle Border Tales vi. 134   ‘Heavenly Father! are we safe?’ ‘Safe as a bug in a rug,’ said Bond.
1906   W. Woods Billy the Kid in America's Lost Plays (1940) VIII. iv. 245   No one ever comes this way and ye would be as safe as a bug in a rug as long as ye wanted to remain.
1928   H. Lauder Roamin' in Gloamin' xvii. 206   If yer name's on a shell or a bullet you'll get it an' if it's no yer as safe as a bug in a rug!
2006   C. Adair Edge of Fear xv. 141   If she and her father hadn't had a falling-out, she'd be safe as a bug in a rug..in his hideaway in Matera right now.

a1815—2006(Hide quotations)

 
 

 c. (as) safe as houses: see house n.1 and int. Phrases 1i.

 
 

 P7. to see someone safe : to look after a person, to protect the interests of a person; (also of a thing) to be beneficial to one or ensure one's success.Cf. to see someone all right at all right adv., adj., int., and n. Phrases 2, to see someone right at right adj. and int. Phrases 7c.

1578   W. B. tr. Appian of Alexandria Aunc. Hist. Romanes Warres iii. 169   Diuers of the Captaynes promised him, that if he woulde come to them, they woulde see hym safe [Gk. φυλάξειν].
1633   W. Rowley All's Lost by Lust i. sig. B1v   That shall be our care noble Iulianus, to see her safe, We love Iacinta more then you must know.
1664   Ungrateful Favourite v. ii. 77   Captain, to your care I do commit Maligno: see him safe, as you'll answer't.
1859   Let. 14 Apr. in S. F. Tower In Memoriam: Scilly & its Emperor (1873) 43   I have a certain phalanx of friends who will see me safe if possible.
1889   R. L. Stevenson Master of Ballantrae xii. 328   I will see you safe, if you be innocent.
1934   G. C. Faber Publisher Speaking (1935) i. 28   There are occasions when it is reasonable for a bookseller to ask that the publisher shall ‘see him safe’.
1962   M. Bonham-Carter in M. Asquith Autobiogr. Introd. p. xviii   Acting on the assumption that his partners would see him safe.., he made out a cheque for £100,000 in his own name.
1992   Guardian 7 Apr. 20/1   The service industries, the banks and the Barlow Clowes, the pizza parlours and the estate agencies would see us safe.
2017   Daily Tel. (Nexis) 8 Apr. (Sport section) 6   Willett arrived on the 18th thinking a birdie would definitely see him safe, but he blasted it into the trees.

1578—2017(Hide quotations)

 
 

 P8. to be, arrive (etc.) safe , also safe and sound (see Phrases 1): to be duly arrived, to be at one's destination, etc.

1597   W. Shakespeare Richard II ii. ii. 50   The banisht Bullingbrooke..with vplifted armes is safe ariude at Rauenspurgh.
a1616   W. Shakespeare Macbeth (1623) v. xi. 2   Mal. I would the Friends we misse, were safe arriu'd. Sey. Some must go off.  View more context for this quotation
1686   J. Scott Christian Life: Pt. II II. vii. 1245   They are safe arrived into each others Arms, never, never to be parted more.
1710   J. Swift Jrnl. to Stella 9 Sept. (1948) I. 11   I send this only to tell I am safe in London.
1781   in R. Putnam Mem. (1903) 184   Your favor of the 25, with the cow-thieves, arrived safe.
1847   C. Bronté Let. in Hours at Home (1870) Aug. 299/2   I am truly glad you are safe at home. Was not—delighted to see you?
1869   A. Hoggard Let. 30 Dec. in Afr. Repository (1870) May 158   I have arrived safe in Liberia, with all the emigrants in good health, except two of them.
1908   Munsey's Mag. Aug. 605/1   Here I am safe in Flanders.

1597—1908(Hide quotations)

 
 

 P9. to play safe: see to play safe at play v. 17a(d).

 

P10. safe come, safe go, safe stay  [compare Old French, Middle French sauf alant et sauf venant (late 13th cent.; also Middle French sauf alant (c1382)), post-classical Latin salvum venire et stare (et recedere) right to come and stay (and go) (1200, 1224 in British sources)] : safe conduct; protection. Obsolete. rare.

a1641   J. Smyth Berkeley MSS (1883) I. 96   He hath letters of safe come, safe goe, and safe staye for five dayes.

a1641—a1641(Hide quotations)

 

P11. (to come) to safe hand : to arrive safely. Obsolete.Perhaps an alteration of to come safe to hand (cf. quot. 1737 at sense 3a) influenced by safe hand n.

1645   J. Howell Epistolæ Ho-elianæ i. xiv. 25   Yours of the third of August, came to safe hand in an inclos'd from my Brother.
1650   J. Howell Addit. Lett. xviii. 30 in Epistolæ Ho-elianæ (ed. 2)    Your last of the fourth current came to safe hand.

1645—1650(Hide quotations)

 
 

 P12. in (also into) safe hands: see hand n. Phrases 1f(e)(ii).

 

 P13. on the safe side: with a margin of security to avoid error or danger. Now chiefly in to be on the safe side . Cf. sense 9a, and on the sure side at sure adj., adv., and int. Phrases 5c.

[1687   R. L'Estrange Brief Hist. Times sig. a 4   I have some Right, Methinks,..to speak a Word or Two on the Safe Side of the Question.]
1719   J. Leng Nat. Obligations x. 317   I cannot see how we could reasonably advise a wise man to act otherwise than on the safe side.
1788   S. Low Politician Out-witted iv. iii. 51   It is a laudable imperfection, if I may be allowed the phrase;—it is erring on the safe side, for women's affairs are delicate things to meddle with, ladies.
1811   J. Austen Sense & Sensibility III. iv. 78   Determining to be on the safe side, he made his apology in form as soon as he could say anything.  View more context for this quotation
1847   F. Marryat Children of New Forest I. xi. 207   Be on the safe side, and do not trust him too far.
1858   Mercantile Marine Mag. 5 84   They should rather err on the safe side.
1893   R. S. Ball Story of Sun 307   For the sake of being on the safe side, I have taken the lowest value.
1921   R. W. Chapman Engin. & University 5   If in many cases the design was neither the best possible nor the most economical, the engineers at least generally erred on the safe side.
1994   Harrowsmith Country Life Dec. 52/2   To be on the safe side, wrap duct tape around the joint where the pipe meets the thimble.
2006   S. Harrigan Challenger Park xxxii. 310   There had been some damage to one of the engines of the shuttle. Just to be on the safe side, it had come home early.

1719—2006(Hide quotations)

 

 P14. Chiefly Irish English. safe home: (as a farewell) ‘safe journey’, ‘get home safely’.  [After various Irish expressions of farewell using the word slán   (adjective) healthy, whole, safe, (noun) health, safety (see slauntiagh n.) and a reference to going home, in later use especially in the combination slán abhaile   ( < slán   + abhaile   homewards), originally in longer phrases such as go dtuga Dia slán abhaile thú   ‘may God lead you home safely’ (compare a similar construction in quot. 1824). Compare also Irish slán leat, lit. ‘safety with you’, slán agat, lit. ‘safety at you’, and slán, all used in the sense ‘farewell’.]

1732   C. O'Begly Eng. Irish Dict. 592/1   I wish you safe home, go srojġṫe tú slán ċum dáruis [‘may you get safely to your home’].
1824   T. C. Croker Researches S. Ireland xii. 223   If the traveller has to apprehend danger on his route, the expressions are more energetic, as ‘Safe home to you by the help of God’.
1847   Dolman's Mag. Nov. 280   A civil ‘safe home, sir’, and a touch of the hat to myself, was sufficient evidence of good will and national courtesy.
1907   New Eng. Mag. Sept. 45/1   Wade followed him to the edge of the clearing with his first sense of loneliness tugging within him. ‘Safe home to you, Mr. Ide,’ he said.
2000   M. Fletcher Silver Linings (2001) ix. 244   ‘I'll not hold yer back,’ he told me as I made to go. ‘Right yer be. Safe home.’

1732—2000(Hide quotations)

 

 P15. Proverb. better (to be) safe than sorry : it is preferable to be cautious rather than to suffer the results of carelessness. Cf. earlier better (to be) sure than sorry at sure adj., adv., and int. Phrases 10.

1874   Parl. Deb. Victoria (Austral.) 16 July 683/2   As it is better to be safe than sorry, I think we ought to have the heavier rails.
1933   Radio Times 14 Apr. 125/1   Cheap distempers very soon crack or fade. Better be safe than sorry. Ask for Hall's.
1958   W. Armstrong True Bk. Lighthouses & Lightships xiii. 131   ‘Better be safe than sorry’ was always the unspoken motto of lighthouse and lightship men.
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.
2009   M. Krepon Better Safe than Sorry iii. 59   It would have been far better to stop the flight testing... Once again, it was better to be safe than sorry.

1874—2009(Hide quotations)

 

Compounds

 C1. With participles. Frequently poetic.
 a.

safebestowing   n. Obsolete

1575   in A. Feuillerat Documents Office of Revels Queen Elizabeth (1908) 254   Putting in order and safebestowinge of the garmentes.

1575—1575(Hide quotations)

 

  safe-going adj. now rare

1599   S. Daniel Musophilus in Poet. Ess. sig. F   A true discern, of the cleare wayes That lie direct, with safe-going equitie Imbroyling not their owne & others dayes.
1778   Earl of Pembroke Mil. Equitation (ed. 3) ii. 17   Nothing remains to be done, but to make them drop the reins quite on a safe-going horse.
1875   A. Trollope Way we live Now I. xlvii. 296   In this safe-going country young men perhaps are not their own masters till they are past thirty.
1912   National Mag. Nov. 289/2   Captain Turner sailed the Gulf for years, and was known and respected..as a safe-going mariner.

1599—1912(Hide quotations)

 

safe-marching adj. Obsolete rare

1755   J. N. Scott Ess. transl. Homer 3   Safe-marching through the Camp.

1755—1755(Hide quotations)

 
 b.

safe-borne adj. Obsolete rare

1761   Gratulatio Academiæ Cantabrigiensis Auspicatissimas Georgii III sig. Ii3   Safe borne beneath th'expanded wing, Of her proud convoy, midst a subject fleet, Th'imperial Vessel sails.
1896   R. Kipling Seven Seas 38   Average fifteen hunder souls safe-borne fra' port to port.

1761—1896(Hide quotations)

 

  safe-buttressed adj. rare

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!

1918—1918(Hide quotations)

 

  safe enshrined adj.

a1723   S. Centlivre Abelard to Eloise in Lovers Cabinet (1755) 84   Was ever Woman to her Lord so kind, That has not pray'd to see him safe enshrin'd?
1837   County Nov. 253   To have my image safe enshrined Within a gentle heart, Can give me pleasure more refined Than splendid deeds impart.
1926   W. de la Mare Memory in R. Kipling & W. de la Mare St. Andrews   Keeps she for me, then, safe-enshrined..those bleached grey streets.
1942   Southeast Economist 5 Nov. 4/2   Safe enshrined in my heart's temple, I kept it, where no eye could see.

a1723—1942(Hide quotations)

 

  safe moored adj. now rare

1762   J. Dalrymple Answers for J. Brown Merchant in Glasgow 9   The adventure was to endure only until the vessel was safe moored.
1834   T. Carlyle Sartor Resartus iii. xii, in Fraser's Mag. Aug. 193/2   Safe-moored in some stillest obscurity.
1912   M. E. Waller Cry in Wilderness (1913) ii. ix. 142   The dugout rocked safe moored within the cove.

1762—1912(Hide quotations)

 

  safe sequestered adj.

1725   A. Pope tr. Homer Odyssey II. v. 561   Some smooth ascent, or safe-sequester'd bay.
1824   P. Brontë in J. H. Turner Brontëana (1898) 205   Rooks on rapid pinions move, For their lov'd home, the safe sequester'd grove.
1930   R. Campbell Poems 17   Safe-sequestered in some rural glen.
2000   G. O. West Bible in Afr. iv. 600   Poor and marginalized communities practice their arts of resistance in safe sequestered sites until an appropriate opportunity for public resistance can be found.

1725—2000(Hide quotations)

 

  safe-swung adj. rare

1900   R. Kipling in Cent. Mag. Jan. 407   Safe-swung above the glassy death.

1900—1900(Hide quotations)

 
 C2.

  safe area   n. now historical (esp. during the Second World War (1939–45)) an area not liable to be attacked, bombed, or invaded.

1934   C. R. M. F. Cruttwell Hist. Great War xxviii. 467   Tired or inferior divisions could no longer be sent to a ‘safe’ area with any comfortable certainty that ample time would be available for their relief before an attack could be mounted.
1944   Ourselves in Wartime 175   The air-blitz..stimulated evacuation afresh... Many thousands of children were removed to safe areas, and..over 620,000 children were settled in reception areas.
2001   Jrnl. (Newcastle) (Nexis) 22 Dec. 22   Daughters left to work in factories and farms,..and young children were evacuated to safe areas to avoid bombs.

1934—2001(Hide quotations)

 
 

  safe bet   n. a near certainty; an option or course of action involving little or no risk.

1808   Sketches of Character III. i. 28   ‘An Earl against a Viscount is a safe bet any day,’ returned Major Lethbridge.
1846   Albion (N.Y.) 30 May 259/1   It would be a safe bet at any hour of the day between ten and five o'clock, that you would in walking the streets see one or more females standing thus at the windows of more than half the houses.
1959   Sunday Times 20 Dec. 21/1   It is a safe bet that Festivallers can now count on hearing some recent works of Britten.
1971   P. G. Wodehouse Much Obliged, Jeeves vii. 69   I go in mostly for who-dun-its and novels of suspense. For the who-dun-it Agatha Christie is always a safe bet.
2003   J. Gelfer Little Bk. Student Bollocks 6   Appearing slightly mysterious and remote in the face of social try-hards will always be a safe bet.

1808—2003(Hide quotations)

 

  safe harbour   n.  (a) a place of shelter and safety, esp. for ships; also as a mass noun; frequently figurative;  (b) originally and chiefly U.S. a provision in a legal or formal document designed to protect a party who makes a legitimate or excusable violation of its terms; frequently attributive.

1569   B. Googe Shippe of Safegarde sig. C.v   A gorgeous Ile, an earthly paradyse,..Doth please the eye, and doth allure the minde Of men that think safe harbour there to finde.
1629   H. Burton Truth's Triumph 75   A secure roade and safe harbour for all heauenly merchants to anchor in.
1775   Descr. County Middlesex 47   This place therefore formerly was a safe harbour for the most abandoned and profligate of mankind; where ruffians, thieves, murderers and others, took shelter from the hands of justice.
1850   R. Cobbold Father's Legacy to his Children xviii. 149   Run ye to Him, bow down your soul and pray, And ask for wisdom, and for faith and peace; There in safe harbour ye shall rest in love.
1896   K. Francke Social Forces in German Lit. viii. 362   In the love of Frau von Stein Goethe had found a safe harbour for his affections.
1904   A. N. Whitehead Gaspard de Coligny iv. 72   He clung to Catholicism... It was a safe harbour for an honest, inelastic, and not too dogmatic mind.
1965   Harvard Law Rev. 78 1640   The SEC could promulgate a safe harbor provision.., either absolute or rebuttable upon a clear showing of lack of sophistication.
1992   Manitoba Vac. Planner 10/3   In the 18th century it was a safe harbour and winter haven for Hudson's Bay Co. sloops.
2002   NewsMax.com Oct. 60/2   The Reform Act provides for the so-called safe harbor, which protects companies from being sued when their forecasts go unrequited.

1569—2002(Hide quotations)

 

  safe haven   n. a place of shelter and safety for ships; now chiefly figurative (also as a mass noun) and in extended use; cf. safe harbour n. (a).

1555   R. Eden tr. Peter Martyr of Angleria Decades of Newe Worlde f. 107v   In the mouth of this goulfe were foure lyttle Ilandes so nere together, that they made a safe hauen to enter into the goulfe.
1668   J. Dryden Sr Martin Mar-all iii. 27   Your friendship's my safe Haven, else I am lost and ship-wrack'd.
1773   London Mag. Oct. 492/2   When a man, says Epicurus, recalls to memory the storms that he has weathered, the dangers he has passed, he fancies himself in a safe haven.
1831   Ladies' Museum Dec. 279/1   The safe, though feeble plank, by which to gain Safe haven from the storm of sinful sorrow's main.
1902   G. E. Collins Hist. Brocklesby Hounds 178   Try as our good amateur huntsman could, he failed to make any more of his fox, so concluded he had found a safe haven among the bricks and tiles.
2002   BusinessWeek 23 Sept. 116/1   Money market mutual funds make for a safe haven in turbulent times, but the returns are lousy.

1555—2002(Hide quotations)

 

  safe hit   n. Baseball = base hit n. at base n.1 Compounds 2b.Also in softball.

1867   Advocate (Harvard Univ.) 6 June 104/1   Lovett goes to second base by safe hit to left field.
1895   G. J. Manson Sporting Dict.   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   Earl of Suffolk et al. 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.
1998   Evening Post (Wellington) (Nexis) 9 Nov. 24   Thompson hadn't had a safe hit in his three previous turns at bat.

1867—1998(Hide quotations)

 

  safe-injection adj. originally and chiefly North American designating a place where intravenous drug users may inject drugs under supervision of medical staff, as in safe-injection facility, safe-injection room, safe-injection site, etc.

1998   Foreign Affairs 77 i. 114   Harm-reduction innovations include..establishing ‘safe-injection rooms’ so addicts do not congregate in public places or dangerous ‘shooting galleries’.
2005   Economist 12 Nov. 62/3   Two trials unique to North America have been launched, with federal help: a safe injection site for heroin addicts and a clinic prescribing free heroin to hard-core addicts.
2018   B. Macy Dopesick Epil. 302   Philadelphia edged closer to launching the nation's first supervised safe-injection facility.

1998—2018(Hide quotations)

 

  safe lamp   n.  (a) Mining = safety lamp n. at safety n. Compounds 3   (now historical);  (b) Photography (chiefly in form safelamp) = safe light n. (b).

1815   H. Davy Let. 30 Oct. in J. A. Paris Life Sir H. Davy (1831) II. 82   I trust the Safe lamp will answer all the objects of the collier.
1893   Chemist & Druggist 13 May 657/1   Many amateur photographers when on tour require to take with them a safe lamp for changing plates, developing, &c.
1940   Pop. Mech. Sept. 450/2   The work must be done in a subdued light such as provided by a darkroom safelamp.
1983   New Scientist 10 Feb. 364/1   The matter rested there until his [sc. Davy's] return, during which time Clanny and Stephenson were working on their own versions of a safe lamp.
2000   L. Stroebel et al. Basic Photogr. Materials & Processes (ed. 2) 226/1   Select a dye that changes to a color that can be distinguished under the red, orange, or amber color of a safelamp.

1815—2000(Hide quotations)

 

  safe lantern   n. Mining (now historical and rare) = safety lamp n. at safety n. Compounds 3.

1815   H. Davy in Philos. Trans. (Royal Soc.) 106 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.
2008   R. Holmes Age of Wonder viii. 364   Despite some fearful explosions, Davy already had at least three working prototypes of a ‘Safe Lantern’ ready by the end of October.

1815—2008(Hide quotations)

 

  safe light   n.  (a) Mining = safety lamp n. at safety n. Compounds 3   (obsolete);  (b) Photography (chiefly in form safelight) a dim, coloured light used in a darkroom, the colour being that which the plate, film, etc., being worked with is least sensitive to (typically red or amber).

1816   H. Davy in Philos. Trans. (Royal Soc.) 106 23   I have already had the honor of communicating to the Royal Society an account of a safe light.
1883   Year-bk. Photogr. p. xxiii (advt.)    1. A safe light for the preparation of gelatino-bromide emulsion. 2. A safe light for the coating of gelatino-bromide plates.
1905   Trans. Inst. Mining Engineers 1903–4 26 309   The Sunderland Society then applied to Sir Humphrey Davy to assist them with the problem of a safe light for use in fiery mines.
1952   Pop. Mech. Apr. 211   Photographers who frequently switch from one type of safelight filter to another will find this two-way safelight a real timesaver.
2010   Los Angeles Times (Nexis) 22 Apr. e4   Auto reversal paper was spread over a table in a darkroom with only a safelight on.

1816—2010(Hide quotations)

 

  safelighted adj. Photography illuminated by a safelight.

1917   Photo-miniature Oct. 376   The paper needed for the order in hand is cut to size, piled face down at one side of the machine (the room being properly ‘safe-lighted’), and the printing is proceeded with.
1954   Daily Mail (Hagerstown, Maryland) 1 Apr. 18/1   The individual staff darkrooms..are arranged in series along a safelighted corridor within the department.
2000   L. Blacklow New Dimensions in Photo Processes (ed. 3) xii. 171   If you are contact printing an enlarged transparency and do not have access to a darkroom, merely flash an overhead tungsten light bulb in a safelighted room.

1917—2000(Hide quotations)

 

  safelighting   n. Photography illumination provided by a safelight.

1893   Anthony's Photogr. Bull. 26 Aug. 532/2   The comfort from heat, and safe lighting of the room, is testified to by the numbers using it [sc. an indoor darkroom] in preference to the one standing in the glaring sunlight.
1977   J. Hedgecoe Photographer's Handbk. 39   Printing papers and films intended for copying black and white originals have this sensitivity, allowing the use of bright orange safe-lighting.
2000   G. C. Webb in I. A. Darby & T. D. Hewitson In Situ Hybridization Protocols iii. 43   Safelighting should be with an Ilford 914 filter in front of a 15-W globe, at least a meter away from bulk emulsions.

1893—2000(Hide quotations)

 

  safe-lit adj. Photography illuminated by a safelight.

1979   Amateur Photographer 10 Jan. 75/1   Electronic timers are far more accurate than relying on peering at your watch in a safelit darkroom.
2003   Building Design (Nexis) 10 Oct. 18   Atmel Micro-electronics Wallsend, a sunflower-yellow, safe-lit interior, with humans pacing dust-free corridors in protective suits.

1979—2003(Hide quotations)

 
 

  safe load   n. a load which leaves the required margin of security against causing breakage or injury to a structure; cf. safety n. Phrases 5.

1797   Encycl. Brit. XVIII. 13/1   The soft bed of Givry stone had for its smallest strength 187,000, for its greatest 311,000, and for its safe load 249,000.
1868   W. 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 1½ ton.
2001   Old-house Jrnl. July 37/2   All of the hydraulic jacks made today should..be clearly labeled with their maximum safe load rating.

1797—2001(Hide quotations)

 

  safe mode   n.  (a) a mode of operation of a weapon, device, etc., in which it is considered safe or unlikely to fail;  (b) Computing a way of running an operating system or program in which only device drivers, programs, plug-ins, etc., that provide basic functionality are loaded, typically so as to minimize chances of a system crash and to help in the diagnosis of errors or failures.

1970   U.S. Patent 3,489,107 5   The device will remain in a ‘Safe’ mode and will not explode.
1983   Science 11 Mar. 1200/3   The spacecraft..with the ability to protect the instruments by going into a ‘safe mode’ at the first sign of an anomaly.
1996   S. J. Bigelow Troubleshooting & repairing Computer Printers (ed. 2) xii. 402   You probably have a conflict in your Windows 95 drivers. Start Windows 95 in its ‘safe mode’.
2008   Sydney Morning Herald (Nexis) 9 June (Guide section) 9   If that doesn't work, the next step is to close Firefox and open it in Safe Mode.

1970—2008(Hide quotations)

 

  safe period   n. the days of the menstrual cycle during which a woman is least likely to become pregnant; also in extended use.

1900   D. F. Wilcox Ethical Marriage iii. x. 87   Sexual intercourse for pleasure limited to the so-called ‘safe’ periods, including the periods of pregnancy and lactation, with intercourse for procreation when offspring is desired.
1923   M. C. Stopes 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.
1981   J. Ross Dark Blue & Dangerous xiii. 75   When you're in the middle of a murder enquiry, I suspect that it's some kind of a male safe period for you.
2007   P. J. Steer in C. Oakley & C. A. Warnes Heart Dis. in Pregnancy (ed. 2) xxiii. 330   The so-called ‘safe period’ relies on the assumption that the average woman ovulates 14 days from the beginning of her last menstrual period.

1900—2007(Hide quotations)

 

  safe pledge   n.  [after post-classical Latin salvus plegius (1199, c1265 in British sources)] Law (now historical and rare) a surety given in order to guarantee a person's appearance at his or her trial.

1607   J. Cowell Interpreter at Safe   Safe pledge, (Salvus plegius) is a suretie giuen for a mans appearance against a day assigned.
1775   J. Paul Every Landlord 122   Do you..by sureties and safe pledges compel the said A. that he be before us on (the return).
1854   W. H. Rule Stud. from Hist. I. 39   The King commanded the Sheriff..to arrest the fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, nephews and nieces, of all those persons, and to put them and their chattels in safe pledge, until his pleasure should be known.
2003   R. Hayman Trees iii. 24   For the first two transgressions against the venison a safe pledge was to be taken, while the third offence was punishable by execution.

1607—2003(Hide quotations)

 

  safe seat   n. Politics a parliamentary seat which is likely to be easily retained by a political party at an election; cf. sense 12.

1841   Times 25 Mar. 5/3   Its constituency, by the number of fraudulent votes it embraces, affords a safe seat for Irish law-officers under the present régime.
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.
2001   Independent 18 May 8/2   The former Conservative minister controversially ‘parachuted’ into the safe seat of St Helens South.

1841—2001(Hide quotations)

 

  safe sex n. originally U.S.  (a) a substitute for or alternative to sexual activity (in later use with conscious reference to sense (b));  (b) (also safer sex) sexual activity in which the risk of unplanned pregnancy or (in later use esp.) of contracting a sexually transmitted infection (esp. HIV) is minimized, typically by using a barrier method of contraception or by avoiding penetrative sex.

1968   H. Sebald Adolescence ix. 225   Analytical observers concluded that this type of dancing was ‘safe sex’ for the teen-agers.
1973   Family Planning Perspectives 5 6   The great majority of satisfied customers are romanticists who link vasectomy to positive feelings about the certainty of ‘safe sex’.
1983   Gay Vote (Harvey Milk Gay Democratic Club, San Francisco) June   In categorizing our advocacy of safer sex now as ‘anti-sex’, ‘panic-prone’,—even ‘anti-gay’—these critics have gone too far.
1990   Health Educ. Jrnl. 49 203/2   Purists would object to the phrase ‘safe sex’, as today we err on the side of caution and refer to it as ‘safer sex’.
1993   J. Green It: Sex since Sixties 1   Celibacy, the very epitome of ‘safe sex’.
1999   M. Silcott Rave Amer. vi. 167   One of the craziest ironies of the AIDS fundraising circuit has been that it is such an unconducive environment for the promotion of safe sex.

1968—1999(Hide quotations)

 
 

  safe space   n. a place or environment in which people, esp. those belonging to a marginalized group, can feel confident that they will not be exposed to discrimination, criticism, harassment, or any other emotional or physical harm.

1974   Daily Independent-Jrnl. (San Rafael, Calif.) 26 Feb. 13/1   Miss Bernhardt believes she must make a safe place, a warm environment where there is trust, where people's identity is respected and where they will not have to perform or be judged... ‘Then it is safe to say something you have not said out loud to anyone... You have a safe space to try new things.’
1989   Sociol. of Educ. 62 73/1   The openness of the instructors will create a safe space for lesbian students..who decide to come out.
1999   Associated Press State & Local Wire (Nexis) 14 Feb.   Many women..say abolishing sorority houses would take away safe spaces for women.
2019   M2 FinancialWire (Nexis) 17 June   We need to change our whole attitude to mental health. We need to rally together to create safe spaces where we can talk about our issues.

1974—2019(Hide quotations)

 

  safetray   n. a tray installed under a plumbing fixture to catch splashed or spilled water; = safe n. 3. Now rare.

1879   Jrnl. Soc. Arts 22 Aug. 869/2   A bath should have a lead ‘safe’ tray placed under it, the waste-pipe of which must..end in the open air.
1912   G. Thomson Mod. Sanitary Engin. xvi. 142   When built-up baths were in use, safe trays were an indispensable part of the installation.

1879—1912(Hide quotations)