Safe Haven – Meaning, Origin and Usage

Did your friend tell you to invest your money in ‘safe haven’ assets during the recession? This post unpacks the meaning and origin of this expression.


The expression ‘safe haven’ means a location acting as a refuge where people can go to avoid persecution or trouble. It also describes an immigration term defining a person who cannot return to their country out of fear of persecution, choosing another country as their ‘safe haven’ or ‘temporary safe haven.’

A safe haven can be a physical location or a state of mind. A safe haven gives a person a sense of security and safety, giving them confidence.

‘Safe haven’ can also apply to the financial industry. A ‘safe haven’ asset, like gold or bonds, allows investors to escape downside volatility in the market. These assets reduce the investor's exposure to losses in times of financial uncertainty.

Example Usage

“We must find a safe haven to bug out to when things get out of control in the cities. Does anyone have any idea where we could go?”

“Cape Cod is our safe haven away from society. Things move slower there, and you can unwind and relax while the world passes you by.”

“My home in the mountains is my family's safe haven. There’s no one around for miles, and we’re perfectly safe, with all the resources we need to survive.”

“A mug of hot chocolate on a winter morning is my safe haven away from the cold of the season. I love it when my partner makes it with the small marshmallows on top.”

“The bond market is the only safe haven to turn to when markets get volatile. It’s better than parking it in cash. At least you can make a return.”

“Gold is a safe haven asset that investors run to when market volatility gets wild. Gold is the old man in the room and the mature asset.”

“Get us away from here. Please take us to a safe haven where we don’t have to worry about these problems in life.”


The expression 'safe haven' originates from the 13th century. It derives from the Old French word 'sauf,' meaning 'watched over' or 'protected.' Sauf derives from the Latin word 'salvus,' meaning in good health or uninjured. This word is related to 'saluber,' meaning 'healthful.'

All of these Latin roots come from the word 'sol,' meaning 'well kept.' The word 'haven' originates from the Old English word 'hæfen,' meaning 'port.' This word derives from the Old Norse word 'höfn,' meaning 'harbor' or 'haven.'

While the word 'haven' has been in use since at least the 13th century, language experts cannot pinpoint the first use of it in writing or who coined the use of the phrase.

Phrases Similar to Safe Haven

  • Refuge.
  • Safe space.

Phrases Opposite to Safe Haven

  • Out in the open.

What is the Correct Saying?

  • Safe haven.

Ways People May Say Safe Haven Incorrectly

The phrase ‘safe haven’ describes a location or asset class outside a disruptive system's influence. Using ‘safe haven’ to describe your bedroom would technically be correct if you find solace there, but it's not the proper use of the term.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase Safe Haven

You can use ‘safe haven’ in professional and social conversations. It refers to somewhere safe, away from danger. When using the term socially, you’re more likely to use it when referencing a safe space or destination acting as your ‘safe haven.’ A ‘safe haven’ describes somewhere you go when you’re feeling insecure or vulnerable and want to get away from pressures in life.

When using it professionally, a safe haven describes assets that remain stable during volatile markets, such as bonds and gold. These assets are safe for money managers to park funds while they wait for the market to turn. A ‘safe haven’ in an economic context is a refuge from market conditions that could diminish portfolio value.

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