safe ( safer comparative) ( safest superlative) ( safes plural )
1 adj Something that is safe does not cause physical harm or danger.
oft it v-link ADJ to-inf (Antonym: dangerous)
Officials arrived to assess whether it is safe to bring emergency food supplies into the city..., Most foods that we eat are safe for birds., ...a safe and reliable birth control option.
2 adj If a person or thing is safefrom something, they cannot be harmed or damaged by it.
v-link ADJ, usu ADJ from n
In the future people can go to a football match knowing that they are safe from hooliganism...
3 adj If you are safe, you have not been harmed, or you are not in danger of being harmed.
Where is Sophy? Is she safe?...
safely adv ADV with v
All 140 guests were brought out of the building safely by firemen.
4 adj A safe place is one where it is unlikely that any harm, damage, or unpleasant things will happen to the people or things that are there.
Many refugees have fled to safer areas...
safely adv ADV after v
The banker keeps the money tucked safely under his bed.
5 adj If people or things have a safe journey, they reach their destination without harm, damage, or unpleasant things happening to them.
...the UN plan to deploy 500 troops to ensure the safe delivery of food and other supplies.
safely adv ADV with v, ADV adv
The space shuttle returned safely today from a 10-day mission...
6 adj If you are at a safe distance from something or someone, you are far enough away from them to avoid any danger, harm, or unpleasant effects.
I shall conceal myself at a safe distance from the battlefield...
7 adj If something you have or expect to obtain is safe, you cannot lose it or be prevented from having it.
usu v-link ADJ
We as consumers need to feel confident that our jobs are safe before we will spend spare cash...
8 adj A safe course of action is one in which there is very little risk of loss or failure.
usu ADJ n, also it v-link ADJ to-inf
Electricity shares are still a safe investment...
safely adv usu ADV before v
We reveal only as much information as we can safely risk at a given time.
9 adj If you disapprove of something because you think it is not very exciting or original, you can describe it as safe., (disapproval)
...frustrated artists who became lawyers at an early age because it seemed a safe option..., Rock'n'roll has become so commercialised and safe since punk.
10 adj If it issafeto say or assume something, you can say it with very little risk of being wrong.
oft it v-link ADJ to-inf
I think it is safe to say that very few students expend the effort to do quality work in school...
safely adv ADV before v
I think you can safely say she will not be appearing in another of my films.
11 n-count A safe is a strong metal cupboard with special locks, in which you keep money, jewellery, or other valuable things.
The files are now in a safe to which only he has the key.
13 If you say that a person or thing is in safe hands, or is safe in someone's hands, you mean that they are being looked after by a reliable person and will not be harmed.
in safe hands / safe in someone's hands phrase usu v-link PHR
I had a huge responsibility to ensure these packets remained in safe hands...
14 If you play safe or play it safe, you do not take any risks.
play safe/play it safe phrase V inflects
If you want to play safe, cut down on the amount of salt you eat...
15 If you say you are doing something to be on the safe side, you mean that you are doing it in case something undesirable happens, even though this may be unnecessary.
to be on the safe side phrase PHR with cl
You might still want to go for an X-ray, however, just to be on the safe side.
16 If you say `it's better to be safe than sorry', you are advising someone to take action in order to avoid possible unpleasant consequences later, even if this seems unnecessary.
it's better to be safe than sorry phrase
Don't be afraid to have this checked by a doctor<endash>better safe than sorry!
17 You say that someone is safe and sound when they are still alive or unharmed after being in danger.
safe and sound phrase PHR after v, v-link PHR
All I'm hoping for is that wherever Trevor is he will come home safe and sound.
a safe pair of hands →
safe in the knowledge →
fail-safe , failsafe
Something that is fail-safe is designed or made in such a way that nothing dangerous can happen if a part of it goes wrong. adj usu ADJ n
The camera has a built-in failsafe device which prevents it from working if the right signals aren't received.
safe area ( safe areas plural ) If part of a country that is involved in a war is declared to be a safe area, neutral forces will try to keep peace there so that it is safe for people. n-count
The UN declared it a safe area.
safe conduct , safe-conduct
If you are given safe conduct, the authorities officially allow you to travel somewhere, guaranteeing that you will not be arrested or harmed while doing so. n-uncount also a N
Her family was given safe conduct to Britain when civil war broke out.
safe deposit box ( safe deposit boxes plural ) A safe deposit box is a small box, usually kept in a special room in a bank, in which you can store valuable objects. n-count
safe haven ( safe havens plural )
1 n-count If part of a country is declared a safe haven, people who need to escape from a dangerous situation such as a war can go there and be protected.
Countries overwhelmed by the human tide of refugees want safe havens set up at once.
2 n-uncount If a country provides safe haven for people from another country who have been in danger, it allows them to stay there under its official protection.
Some Democrats support granting the Haitians temporary safe haven in the US.
3 n-count A safe haven is a place, a situation, or an activity which provides people with an opportunity to escape from things that they find unpleasant or worrying.
usu sing, oft N from n
...the idea of the family as a safe haven from the brutal outside world.
safe house ( safe houses plural ) , safe-house You can refer to a building as a safe house when it is used as a place where someone can stay and be protected. Safe houses are often used by spies, criminals, or the police. n-count
...a farm which operates as a safe house for criminals on the run.
If someone is given safe passage, they are allowed to go somewhere safely, without being attacked or arrested. n-uncount also a N, oft N for/to n
They were unwilling, or unable, to guarantee safe passage from the city to the aircraft...
safe seat ( safe seats plural ) In politics, a safe seat is an area in which the candidate from one particular party nearly always wins by a large number of votes.
The constituency I live in is a safe Labour seat.
safe sex , safer sex
Safe sex is sexual activity in which people protect themselves against the risk of AIDS and other diseases, usually by using condoms. n-uncount