Asylum A*sy"lum, n.; pl. E. {Asylums}, L. {Asyla}. [L. asylum, Gr. ?, fr. ? exempt from spoliation, inviolable; 'a priv. + ? right of seizure.] 1. A sanctuary or place of refuge and protection, where criminals and debtors found shelter, and from which they could not be forcibly taken without sacrilege. [1913 Webster]

So sacred was the church to some, that it had the right of an asylum or sanctuary. --Ayliffe. [1913 Webster]

Note: The name was anciently given to temples, altars, statues of the gods, and the like. In later times Christian churches were regarded as asylums in the same sense. [1913 Webster]

2. Any place of retreat and security. [1913 Webster]

Earth has no other asylum for them than its own cold bosom. --Southey. [1913 Webster]

3. An institution for the protection or relief of some class of destitute, unfortunate, or afflicted persons; as, an asylum for the aged, for the blind, or for the insane; a lunatic asylum; an orphan asylum. [1913 Webster]

The Collaborative International Dictionary of English. 2000.

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