Word Choice – Safety Versus Security

Paulo’s question: “In the sense of protection from danger, are the words ‘security’ and ‘safety’ interchangeable?”

BizWritingTip response: People often confuse these words. Although the thought process is close, the words are not interchangeable. Safe comes from the Latin word salvus meaning “uninjured, healthy.” Secure comes from Latin securus, “free from care.”

“Security” refers to a condition used to ensure safety or protection from outside sources. It deals with external factors. “Safety” has more of an emotional context and relates to protection of self or property. It is internal.

Another way of looking at it is that safety involves feelings and security involves conditions.

Security measures must be in place to protect your possessions. (to protect from thieves)
We have installed additional lighting in the parking lot for employee safety. (physical protection)
We are concerned about the safety of the staff. (physical protection)
We are concerned about the security of the event. (protection from outside threats or danger)
The streets are safe because of the security measures we have instigated. (measures taken to  protect from outside sources)