Shelter is one of the basic human needs along with food, water, and companionship. It is a structure that protects you from the elements and gives you a place to live.

If you get lost in the woods during a rain storm, the first thing you should do is seek shelter, or a protected place to stay. A shelter is also a place to go for help, e.g. a homeless shelter is for those with nowhere to sleep, a bomb shelter protects people in a war zone and an animal shelter houses dogs and cats without a home. You've probably heard people talking about tax shelters, which are investments that protect your money from being taxed by the government.

Primary Meanings of shelter

protective covering that provides protection from the weather
provide shelter for
a way of organizing business to reduce the taxes it must pay on current earnings
invest (money) so that it is not taxable
Full Definitions of shelter

n protective covering that provides protection from the weather

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bell cot, bell cote
a small shelter for bells; has a gable or shed roof
a shelter for birds
a covering (usually of cloth) that serves as a roof to shelter an area from the weather
a small shelter for domestic animals (as sheep or pigeons)
dog house, doghouse, kennel
outbuilding that serves as a shelter for a dog
rough shelter whose roof has only one slope
a shelter with perches for fowl or other birds
a shelter or screen providing protection from enemy fire or from the weather
sentry box
a small shelter with an open front to protect a sentry from the weather
awning, sunblind, sunshade
a canopy made of canvas to shelter people or things from rain or sun
ornamented canopy supported by columns or suspended from a roof or projected from a wall (as over an altar)
columbarium, columbary, dovecote
a birdhouse for pigeons
a roost for hens at night
marquee, marquise
permanent canopy over an entrance of a hotel etc.
canopy extending out from a building entrance to shelter those getting in and out of vehicles
a flat canopy (especially one over a four-poster bed)
a lightweight handheld collapsible canopy
Type of:
protection, protective cover, protective covering
a covering that is intend to protect from damage or injury

n a structure that provides privacy and protection from danger

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a detached or outdoor shelter for cooking
either of two low shelters on either side of a baseball diamond where the players and coaches sit during the game
fallout shelter
a shelter to protect occupants from the fallout from an atomic bomb
haven, oasis
a shelter serving as a place of safety or sanctuary
hovel, hut, hutch, shack, shanty
small crude shelter used as a dwelling
army hut, field hut, hut
temporary military shelter
loft, pigeon loft
a raised shelter in which pigeons are kept
mantelet, mantlet
portable bulletproof shelter
asylum, refuge, sanctuary
a shelter from danger or hardship
a shelter or screen providing protection from enemy fire or from the weather
cyclone cellar, storm cellar, tornado cellar
an underground shelter where you can go until a storm passes
collapsible shelter, tent
a portable shelter (usually of canvas stretched over supporting poles and fastened to the ground with ropes and pegs)
backpacking tent, pack tent
a tent that can be carried in a backpack
bell tent
a bell-shaped tent
a small tent used as a dressing room beside the sea or a swimming pool
canvas, canvas tent, canvass
a tent made of canvas fabric
cottage tent
a tent providing shelter for a family
fly tent
a tent with a fly front
harbor, harbour
a place of refuge and comfort and security
igloo, iglu
an Eskimo hut; usually built of blocks (of sod or snow) in the shape of a dome
lean-to tent
tent that is attached to the side of a building
mountain tent
a lightweight tent with a floor; flaps close with a zipper
a reed hut in the marshlands of Iraq; rare since the marshes were drained
Nissen hut, Quonset hut
a prefabricated hut of corrugated iron having a semicircular cross section
marquee, pavilion
large and often sumptuous tent
pop tent
a small tent that is easy to carry and quick to set up
praetorium, pretorium
the tent of an ancient Roman general
pup tent, shelter tent
a wedge-shaped tent; usually without a floor or windows
pyramidal tent
a large tent shaped like a pyramid; can hold half a dozen people
a refuge from attack
safe house
a house used as a hiding place or refuge by members of certain organizations
teepee, tepee, tipi
a Native American tent; usually of conical shape
sealskin tent, tupek, tupik
tent that is an Eskimo summer dwelling
two-man tent
a tent designed for occupancy by two persons
umbrella tent
a small tent with a single supporting pole and radiating metal ribs
Type of:
construction, structure
a thing constructed; a complex entity constructed of many parts

n temporary housing for homeless or displaced persons

camp, refugee camp
shelter for persons displaced by war or political oppression or for religious beliefs
Type of:
housing, living accommodations, lodging
structures collectively in which people are housed

n the condition of being protected

indemnity, insurance
protection against future loss
protection against harmful effects of radiation
Type of:
the state of being free from danger or injury

v provide shelter for

“After the earthquake, the government could not provide shelter for the thousands of homeless people”
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domiciliate, house, put up
provide housing for
put up in a kennel
shelter in a stable
put into, or keep in, a stall
harbor, harbour
secretly shelter (as of fugitives or criminals)
put up in a new or different housing
provide with, or send to, a home
accommodate, lodge
provide housing for
place in a chamber
take in
provide with shelter
Type of:
furnish, provide, render, supply
give something useful or necessary to

n a way of organizing business to reduce the taxes it must pay on current earnings

tax shelter
Type of:
decrease, diminution, reduction, step-down
the act of decreasing or reducing something

v invest (money) so that it is not taxable

Type of:
commit, invest, place, put
make an investment

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