Definition of caravan in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈkarəvan/
Pronunciation: /karəˈvan/


1British A vehicle equipped for living in, typically towed by a car and used for holidays: they spent a fishing holiday in a caravan [as modifier]: a caravan holiday
More example sentences
  • More than 200 exhibitors will be offering an unrivalled selection of the very latest models of caravans, motorhomes, holiday homes and camping equipment.
  • To anybody who has ever endured a caravan holiday in Ireland, mobile homes will always conjure up images of laminate interiors, chintzy furnishings and Travel Scrabble.
  • It is also estimated that some one-in-three adults have been camping or taken a caravan holiday at some time.
mobile home, camper, caravanette;
North American  trailer
informal van
British trademark Dormobile
1.1A covered horse-drawn wagon: a Gypsy caravan
More example sentences
  • But in our case, one must not only build a caravan of gypsy wagons with their own two hands - but make an entire sideshow carnival!
  • With his dog and his young friends he'd set out in his vardo - a horse-drawn gypsy caravan - and end up in the most wonderful, strange and exciting places.
  • As late as the 1930s, the area around the portes d' Italie, Choisy and Ivry was a no-man's land dotted by Gypsy caravans and shacks.
wagon, covered cart, van
1.2North American A covered lorry.
Example sentences
  • Our little covered caravan was dwarfed by these new surroundings.
  • At the end of the road stood a canvas covered caravan and beside it a tiny theatre, a miniature stage with a black curtain backdrop.
  • This tiny caravan, organised with military precision, is home to scores of costumes, with an outfit for every cog in the wheel that drives the circus operation.
2 historical A group of people, especially traders or pilgrims, travelling together across a desert in Asia or North Africa.
Example sentences
  • It is believed that the dogs got their name from travelling with caravans of traders.
  • The caravan of desert travelers came over the ridges of sand, marching ceaselessly under the blazing yellow sun.
  • In older books I found tales of desert caravans, raids by Bedouin clans, near starvation, and hard-won spiritual enlightenment.
2.1Any large group of people, typically with vehicles or animals, travelling together in single file: a caravan of cars and trucks
More example sentences
  • The entire entourage was traveling across a long dirt road, like a caravan, with animals and performers and equipment and everything in tow.
  • Then I heard cars, and I turned to see a caravan of vehicles pulling up behind mine.
  • What they're going to do about it: First, they're going to drive very slowly to Ottawa in a caravan involving dozens of cars.
convoy, procession, column, train, cavalcade, fleet, cortège, company, troop, band, group, assemblage


Late 15th century (in sense 2): from French caravane, from Persian kārwān. The sense 'covered horse-drawn wagon' dates from the early 19th century.

  • The first use of caravan was for a group of people travelling together across a desert in Asia or North Africa. The word comes from French caravane, from Persian kārwān. The sense ‘covered horse-drawn wagon’ dates from the early 19th century; during this period it also described a third class ‘covered carriage’ on a railway. A caravanserai (late 16th century) is from Persian kārwānsarāy, literally a ‘caravan palace’: the word is either the same as the early sense of caravan or describes an inn with a central courtyard for travellers. Van (early 19th century) is a shortening of caravan, to which the word also sometimes refers. The earlier van (early 17th century), ‘the foremost part of a group of people’, found as part of the phrase in the van of, is also an abbreviated form, from vanguard (Late Middle English), whose first part was from Old French avant ‘before’ ( compare vamp). The workman's white van is such a familiar sight that white van man has recently entered the language to mean an aggressive male van driver, or more widely an ordinary working man with forthright views.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: cara|van

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