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Safe vs secure

Sometimes, ‘safe’ and ‘secure’ are interchangeable, but not always.

Safe means being free from harm and protected from mishaps or mistakes.

Is this vaccine safe to take?
The new procedure takes longer but is
Patient and staff
safety come first.

Secure refers to being free from the threat or fear of danger, and also to preventing loss or damage.

Recent attacks by patients have made staff feel less secure.
Dangerous medications must be kept in a
secure place.
security has become a huge challenge.

Noticed a difference?

It’s often about the intention.

Use safe when you mean protection from unintended threats like accidents – remember a in safe and in accident.

But use secure when you’re talking about protection from deliberate threats such as violence and crime – remember e in secure and deliberate.

Are any other pesky points bothering you? Ask me.

More common confusions are explained here, here and here.

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© Christina Wielgolawski