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harem Line breaks: harem
Pronunciation: /ˈhɑːriːm/

Definition of harem in English:


1(In former times) the separate part of a Muslim household reserved for wives, concubines, and female servants: we were invited into the harem in the rear of the house
More example sentences
  • Among the striking objects on display are the wooden doors designed by the famous architect Sinan for the harem of the sultan Murad III in 1578, and measuring over 2.5 metres in height.
  • A theatre was constructed in the inner court of the harem, leaning against the windows of the apartments of the ladies, so that they can see the scene.
  • He travelled 1,500 miles across the desert to the Fifth Cataract, with his collapsible wooden camera, barrels of distilled water and a darkroom tent - which villagers thought housed a harem.
women's quarters
in Muslim societies , formerly seraglio
in India & Persiazenana;
in ancient Greece & Romegynaeceum
rare haremlik, serai
1.1The women occupying a harem; the wives (or concubines) of a polygamous man: the Maharaja of Delhi had a very fine harem of 18 young and nubile wives
More example sentences
  • At its center was the palace-home to the king, his harem, and hundreds of courtiers.
  • His grandson, Kublai Khan, had 22 legitimate sons, and was said to add 30 virgins to his harem each year.
  • Since an imperial harem numbered more than 5,000 wives, concubines, and eunuch guards at the height of the dynasty, the scale of cooking was gargantuan.
1.2A group of female animals sharing a single mate: the dominant bulls gather a harem of anything from two to ten cows
More example sentences
  • A stallion starts a harem by abducting females from other herds, but the dominant stallions from which he steals do not give up their females easily.
  • With winter approaching, pronghorn males each gather small harems of females into gullies and valleys on the prairie, trying to keep them out of sight of their rivals while they woo them.
  • Gorilla groups are generally polygynous, consisting of one silverback male, his harem of several adult females, their young, and one or more subordinate males.
1.3chiefly derogatory A group of women perceived as centring around a particular man: rich men with their extensive harems of buxom blondes
More example sentences
  • I couldn't work out whether he thought I was trying to steal his hens or whether he wanted to add me to his harem.
  • But critics point out that he has gathered a harem of nine so-called wives with him on Fiji, including a former Playboy centerfold.
  • His videos invariably feature a harem of voluptuous, bikini-clad lovelies positively gagging to get down with the self-styled Mr Lover Lover.


Mid 17th century: from Arabic ḥaram, ḥarīm, literally 'prohibited, prohibited place' (hence 'sanctuary, women's quarters, women'), from ḥarama 'be prohibited'. Compare with haram.

  • This is from Arabic harīm which is literally ‘prohibited, prohibited place’, thus ‘sanctuary, women's quarters’ and, by extension, ‘women’.

Words that rhyme with harem

arum, harum-scarum, Sarum

Definition of harem in:

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