Pronunciation: (u-sī'lum),[key] —n. 1. (esp. formerly) an institution for the maintenance and care of the mentally ill, orphans, or other persons requiring specialized assistance.
2. an inviolable refuge, as formerly for criminals and debtors; sanctuary: He sought asylum in the church. 3. Internat. Law. a. a refuge granted an alien by a sovereign state on its own territory.
b. a temporary refuge granted political offenders, esp. in a foreign embassy.
4. any secure retreat.