Definition of caravanserai in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˌkarəˈvansərʌɪ/
Pronunciation: /ˌkarəˈvansəri/
(US also caravansary)

noun (plural caravanserais or caravansaries)

1 historical An inn with a central courtyard for travellers in the desert regions of Asia or North Africa.
Example sentences
  • ‘Like Genghis Khan come to Chinatown,’ is how a friend once described this former Silk Route caravanserai on market day.
  • The caravanserais, souks, hammams and charitable institutions which share the same architectural language throughout the Muslim world are not compared or discussed.
  • Said to be one of the oldest preserved caravanserais in the world, maybe a thousand years, it wears its age and restoration with solidity rather than elegance.
2A group of people travelling together; a caravan.
Example sentences
  • Someone wrote more acutely that The Hound in the Left-Hand Corner does for a great museum what Arnold Bennett - ‘a no less notable connoisseur of luxury’ - did for the international caravanserai in his Grand Babylon Hotel.
  • Not unlike the early explorers and their caravanserai of botanists, scientists and illustrators who meticulously documented the areas they visited, Martin and her colleagues made their own recordings of what they saw.
  • Once the media caravanserai moves on to the next global flashpoint, we will likely ignore the messy aftermath to the heroic events of last week.


Late 16th century: from Persian kārwānsarāy, from kārwān 'caravan' + sarāy 'palace'.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: cara¦van|serai

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