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a·sy·lum  audio  (-slm) KEY 

  1. An institution for the care of people, especially those with physical or mental impairments, who require organized supervision or assistance.
  2. A place offering protection and safety; a shelter.
  3. A place, such as a church, formerly constituting an inviolable refuge for criminals or debtors.
  4. The protection afforded by a sanctuary. See Synonyms at shelter.
  5. Protection and immunity from extradition granted by a government to a political refugee from another country.

Middle English asilum, refuge, from Latin aslum, from Greek aslon, sanctuary, from neuter of aslos, inviolable : a-, without ; see a-1 + slon, right of seizure

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