Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A house or a section of a house reserved for women members of a Muslim household.
  • n. The wives, concubines, female relatives, and servants occupying such a place.
  • n. A group of women sexual partners for one man.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The private part of an Arab household. In traditional Arab culture, this part of the household was forbidden to male strangers.
  • n. A group of women, wives and/or concubines in a polygamous household.
  • n. A group of female animals (cows) herded and controlled by a male animal (bull) of that species for breeding purposes. Such behaviour is exhibited by bovids including cattle and buffalo as well as moose, elephants, seals, sea lions, sea elephants.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The apartments or portion of the house allotted to females in Mohammedan families.
  • n. The family of wives and concubines belonging to one man, in Mohammedan countries; a seraglio.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In Turkey, Egypt, Syria, etc., the part of a dwelling-house, including an inclosed courtyard, appropriated to the female members of a Mohammedan family, and so constructed as to secure the utmost seclusion and privacy. In India the corresponding chambers, offices, and inclosure are called the zenana.
  • n. Collectively, the occupants of a harem, consisting in a Mohammedan family of the wife, or wives (usually to the number of four), female relatives of the husband, female slaves or concubines, and sometimes eunuchs as guardians and attendants.
  • n. A sacred place; either of the holy cities Mecca and Medina, called the two harems, as places prohibited to infidels.
  • n. The group of female fur-seals (cows) controlled by a single male fur-seal (bull): the unit of life on the fur-seal rookeries.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. living quarters reserved for wives and concubines and female relatives in a Muslim household

Etymologies

Turkish, from Arabic ḥarīm, forbidden place, from ḥarama, to prohibit; see ḥrm in Semitic roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Turkish harem, from Arabic حرم (ḥaram) ‘something prohibited; sanctuary, women’; and later also from حريم (ḥarīm) with same meaning, both from حرم (ḥaruma) ‘be forbidden or unlawful’. (Eng. usg. 1623) (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Cleopatra _Cleopatra_ compatriot _compatriot_ gratis _gratis_ or _grahtis_ harem _harem_ or _hahrem_ heinous _hanous_ hiatus _hiatus_ implacable _implakable_ nape _nap_ née _na_ négligé _naglezha'_ patron _patron_ protégé _protazha'_ résumé _razuma'_ tenacious _tenashus_ tomato _tomato_ or _tomahto_ valet _va'la_ or _val'et_ vase _vas, vahz_, or _vaz_ veracious _verashus_ vivacious _vivashus_

    Practical Grammar and Composition

  • The Turkish harem comes from the Arabic word Ḥarām, meaning

    SeeLight:

  • The most obvious yet often unasked question - why the term harem to qualify this pant?

    Racialicious - the intersection of race and pop culture

  • In long passages both bawdy and fantastic, we are shown how the feminine principle makes nonsense of all forms of statecraft, including even the cleverest ones adumbrated in The Prince, and how the distance between the boudoir and the bordello or zenana or harem is disconcertingly short.

    Cassocks and Codpieces

  • Now why would westeners even assign the word harem to these pants, even the ones that are really that style and not trousers with gathered legs?

    "Those are winter harem pants. Do you hear me? HAREM PANTS. For WINTER."

  • Cue Egyptian babe, resplendent in harem gear and packing heat.

    Archive 2007-03-01

  • The word harem means the thing or person that is forbidden in Ar­abic.

    Archive 2009-04-01

  • KING: Why are you in this for want of a better term harem?

    CNN Transcript Nov 29, 2005

  • It must be confessed that the "light of the harem" is not beautiful.

    The Golden Chersonese and the Way Thither

  • Then called Esther for Hatach, one of the king's chamberlains, whom he had appointed to attend upon her -- Communication with the women in the harem is very difficult to be obtained, and only through the medium of the keepers.

    Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

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Comments

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  • Well-spotted VO. Not many people have been calling about my ad for the spare room so perhaps I should describe it as a harem.

    December 2, 2008

  • WeirdNet #2 gives the impression there are harems on the market, just waiting for tenants...

    December 2, 2008