Definition of asylum in English:


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  • 1also political asylumThe protection granted by a nation to someone who has left their native country as a political refugee.

    ‘she applied for asylum and was granted refugee status’
    • ‘In June 2004 the Home Office refused to grant him asylum and was going to send him back to Iran.’
    • ‘Each year, a smaller proportion of asylum applications is being granted.’
    • ‘Rape is routinely used as a weapon of war, but rape victims are rarely granted asylum.’
    • ‘It sounds as if, as we heard, he is being granted asylum by the president of Nigeria.’
    • ‘Now living in Glasgow, he has been granted asylum and, at 31, has started anew.’
    • ‘Makine was born in Russia but was granted asylum in France in 1987 when he was 30.’
    • ‘Some have recently been granted asylum on the basis of having an Irish child.’
    • ‘Doctors recommended the family be granted asylum on humanitarian grounds.’
    • ‘The authorities in Dover granted him asylum and he set up home in Bolton.’
    • ‘He is now staying with friends in Levenshulme and plans to appeal against refusal to grant him asylum.’
    • ‘Home Office officials believed his story and granted asylum to him and his wife and children.’
    • ‘As for Ghazal, if she were granted asylum she would like to go to school in America.’
    • ‘Omar, a Syrian, resides in Britain, which granted him political asylum years ago.’
    • ‘Denied political asylum and protection, he's now urgently seeking a refugee visa.’
    • ‘At present, the Secretary of State grants asylum to all such claimants.’
    • ‘He was granted asylum, grew up in Brighton and applied for British citizenship.’
    • ‘They spent two years behind bars before they were granted asylum by the courts.’
    • ‘The son of a man sentenced to death in the Yemen fears his life may also be in danger unless he is granted asylum.’
    • ‘They came here seeking political asylum, and now we're at war with the country they're seeking asylum from.’
    • ‘If asylum is not granted and they are not given refugee status, they may be deported.’
    • ‘Now she is to go before a panel of Home Office officials to try to persuade them to grant her mother asylum.’
    refuge, sanctuary, shelter, safety, safe keeping, protection, security, immunity
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    1. 1.1Shelter or protection from danger.
      • ‘we provide asylum for those too ill to care for themselves’
      refuge, sanctuary, shelter, safety, safe keeping, protection, security, immunity
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  • 2 dated An institution offering shelter and support to people who are mentally ill.

    ‘he'd been committed to an asylum’
    • ‘Moreover, most of them languish in mental asylums and hospitals without being visited or taken care of by their relatives.’
    • ‘We should have institutions and asylums where we can put those people and care for them, and where they are protected from society and society is protected from them.’
    • ‘Once upon a time there were big Victorian asylums where the mentally ill were institutionalised.’
    • ‘Countless schools, hospitals and asylums were built.’
    • ‘You have to remember that in those days, there were hundreds and hundreds of people confined to mental asylums in appalling conditions with very few treatments available.’
    • ‘The 1901 census revealed that more than 13,000 people were living in asylums, officially classed as lunatics or imbeciles.’
    psychiatric hospital, psychiatric unit, hospital, home, institution
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/əˈsīləm/ /əˈsaɪləm/


Late Middle English (in the sense ‘place of refuge’, especially for criminals): via Latin from Greek asulon ‘refuge’, from asulos ‘inviolable’, from a- ‘without’ + sulon ‘right of seizure’. Current senses date from the 18th century.