Definition of divan in English:
- They piled out into a bigger room with several worn couches and divans.
- I spotted Jonas and his friends lounging on ornate, divan couches in the ‘mirror’ room.
- She pulled the low writing desk to the divan, and reached into the jar.
- The king holds court in the divan, where citizens can make requests or express complaints.
- The palace comprises tall, elaborately decorated rooms where the Khan held his divans, or council meetings.
- Every year the divan, the ruling council of the Pirate Republic of Bou Regreg met to elect two officers for the year.
Late 16th century (sense 2): via French or Italian from Turkish dīvān, from Persian dīwān 'anthology, register, court, or bench'; compare with diwan. As a piece of furniture, a divan was originally (early 18th century) a low bench or raised section of floor used as a long seat against the wall of a room, common in Middle Eastern countries; European imitation of this led to the sense 'low flat sofa or bed' (late 19th century).
The divan travelled across Europe from the court of the Ottoman Empire in the East. The Ottoman divan was its privy council, presided over by the sultan or his highest official, the grand vizier. Travellers first referred to it in English in the late 16th century. Turkish dīvān came from a Persian word with a range of meanings: ‘brochure’, ‘anthology’, ‘register’, ‘court’, and ‘bench’. The last gave rise to the usual sense of divan in English, a piece of furniture. Originally, a divan was a low bench or raised part of a floor forming a seat against the wall of a room, a style which was common in Middle Eastern countries. European imitations of this led to the sense ‘a low flat sofa or bed’ in the late 19th century, while ottoman (late 18th century) was used for a similar object; an upholstered box that doubled as a seat.
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