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What would you call the person that lives in a safe house, to save them from a much worse situation, say a person seeking freedom, escaping violence. The text I am translating refers to the African Americans who were offered a place in Underground Railroad safe houses during the period of slavery in the US.

I'm looking for a generic word (not the official "freedom seekers" or similar) - something that has to do with them being "protected" (a synonym for "protectee") The sample sentence is:

The comforter on the bed has star and moon patterns... Mother didn’t make it herself... it was a gift from one of her poor protectees when we arrived here. It was a gift from Mrs Dillard, as thanks for the help she’d received.

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    Not sure if this is good enough for an answer but a refugee is someone who has sought refuge which is what a safe house is. A refugee is usually considered to be someone who has fled their country, but the situation fits the question, and literally means someone in a refuge. – Weather Vane Feb 21 at 19:53
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    Safe, one would hope. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Feb 21 at 19:55
  • thank you for the suggestions, refugee is along the right lines, it's a noun so fits the grammar of the sentence, but it's quite a loaded word (especially nowadays) and I think I need something more neutral, that would also fit the historical time period - mid 19th century America (Boston). – Magicamente Translations Feb 21 at 20:33
  • Hello M.T., and thank you for posting on EL&U. While your question is very interesting, we have several requirements for posts. From the SWR tag: "This tag is for questions seeking a single word that fits a meaning. To ensure that your question is not closed as off-topic, please be specific about the intended use of the word. YOU MUST INCLUDE A SAMPLE SENTENCE demonstrating how the word would be used. " – Cascabel Feb 21 at 20:57
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    I initially thought of ward, but that is usually reserved for children. However, if context is already clear, you can simply call the person a resident. – jxh Feb 21 at 22:57
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I would suggest they are "under protection" or "taking refuge", but if you need a single-word noun perhaps "refuge-takers" would work?

  • yes, the "poor people under her protection" I was thinking.. although it's a bit longer that the "poor protectees" which would the literal translation of what I'm translating from. – Magicamente Translations Feb 21 at 20:34
  • @MagicamenteTranslations If you are doing a translation, you need to provide us with the original text. Some of us here actually have a few languages between us and may be able to provide a better translation: however, in this case i doubt it. It is curious that you are doing a translation INTO English, unless it is from an African language. Is this for ONU, or USAID? – Cascabel Feb 21 at 21:15
  • it's literature and it's from IT: povere protette. I didn't mention it because I was thinking more of a word search to find something suitable..equivalent in English rather than a translation. The author is using a generic term, the reader is supposed to understand what she is implying, but without her saying it explicitly (fugitives/escapees/freedom seekers/runaway slaves), perhaps it's the sensitive way they referred to the people who passed through their house. – Magicamente Translations Feb 21 at 21:28
  • OK @MagicamenteTranslations We have several REALLY good polyglots here, and I have no doubt that they should be able to assist you..however, [povere protette] should be included in the question...however...once again, why is this coming from IT into AmE.? – Cascabel Feb 21 at 21:40
  • I am not well versed in the historical details of the time, buu is it posible that the host referred to the people as guests. I suppose that reflects a 21st century sensibility and trend to destigmatize people one is tryng to help. – Damila Feb 22 at 1:35

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