c. 1300, sauf, "unscathed, unhurt, uninjured; free from danger or molestation, in safety, secure; saved spiritually, redeemed, not damned;" from Old French sauf "protected, watched-over; assured of salvation," from Latin salvus "uninjured, in good health, safe," which is related to salus "good health," saluber "healthful" (all from PIE *solwos from root *sol- "whole, well-kept"). For the phonological development of safe from sauf, OED compares gage from Old North French gauge.
From late 14c. as "rescued, delivered; protected; left alive, unkilled." The meaning "not exposed to danger" (of places, later of valuables) is attested from late 14c.; in reference to actions, etc., the meaning "free from risk," is recorded by 1580s. The sense of "sure, reliable, not a danger" is from c. 1600. The sense of "conservative, cautious" is from 1823. It has been paired alliteratively with sound (adj.) from c. 1300. In Middle English it also meant "in good health," also "delivered from sin or damnation." Related: Safeness.
"chest for keeping food or valuables" safe from risk of theft or fire, early 15c., save, from French en sauf "in safety," from sauf (see safe (adj.)). Spelling with -f- is by 1680s, from influence of safe (adj.).
updated on November 05, 2021
Dictionary entries near safe