Etymology
Advertisement

safety (n.)

early 14c., savete, "freedom or immunity from harm or danger; an unharmed or uninjured state or condition," from Old French sauvete, salvete "safety, safeguard; salvation; security, surety," earlier salvetet (11c., Modern French sauveté), from Medieval Latin salvitatem (nominative salvitas) "safety," from Latin salvus "uninjured, in good health, safe" (from PIE root *sol- "whole, well-kept"). From late 14c. as "means or instrument of safety, a safeguard."

The meaning "trigger-lock on a gun" is attested by 1881, perhaps short for safety-lock (1877), etc. As a North American football position, by 1931; as a type of score against one's own team, 1881.

Safety-valve, which diminishes the risk of explosion, is from 1797; figurative sense recorded from 1818. Safety-net in literal sense (in machinery) is by 1916, later of aerial circus performances (1920s); figurative use is by 1950. Safety-bicycle as a name for the modern type, with low, equal-sized wheels and a driving mechanism, is by 1866. Safety-razor is by 1877. A safety-belt (1840) was at first for window washers and firefighters; it was used of restraining straps for airplane pilots by 1911, extended to automobiles by 1948. Safety first as an accident-prevention slogan first recorded 1873.

Safety first, and saving of fuel second, should be the rule in steam engineering. [Scientific American, June 15, 1861]

updated on November 05, 2021

Advertisement
Advertisement
Definitions of safety from WordNet

safety (n.)
the state of being certain that adverse effects will not be caused by some agent under defined conditions;
the reciprocal of safety is risk
insure the safety of the children
safety (n.)
a safe place;
He ran to safety
Synonyms: refuge
safety (n.)
a device designed to prevent injury or accidents;
Synonyms: guard / safety device
safety (n.)
(baseball) the successful act of striking a baseball in such a way that the batter reaches base safely;
Synonyms: base hit
safety (n.)
a score in American football; a player is tackled behind his own goal line;
safety (n.)
contraceptive device consisting of a sheath of thin rubber or latex that is worn over the penis during intercourse;
Synonyms: condom / rubber / safe / prophylactic
From wordnet.princeton.edu, not affiliated with etymonline.