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

  • n. A ruler, an official, or an important person in India and some central Asian countries.
  • n. A medieval ruler of a Mongol, Tartar, or Turkish tribe.
  • n. A caravansary in certain Asian countries.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. after Genghis Khan, a ruler over various Turkish, Tatar and Mongol peoples in the Middle Ages
  • n. an Ottoman sultan
  • n. a noble or man of rank in various Muslim countries of Central Asia, including Afghanistan
  • n. a caravanserai; a resting-place for a travelling caravan

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A king; a prince; a chief; a governor; -- so called among the Tartars, Turks, and Persians, and in countries now or formerly governed by them.
  • n. An Eastern inn or caravansary.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The title of sovereign princes in Tatar countries, whose dominions are known as khanates, and of nomadic chiefs and various state officers in Persia; also, one of the titles of the. sultan of Turkey.
  • n. One of a class of unfurnished inns in Turkish and some other Oriental lands, generally belonging to the government.

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

  • n. an inn in some eastern countries with a large courtyard that provides accommodation for caravans
  • n. a title given to rulers or other important people in Asian countries


Middle English chan, from Old French can, from Turkish khān (from Old Turkic qaghan) and from Mongolian qā'ān, ruler.
Arabic ḫān, inn, from Persian khān, house, from Middle Persian.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old French chan or Latin chanis, from Turkish han ("lord, prince") (borrowed into Arabic, Persian, Mongolian etc.). (Wiktionary)
From Persian خانه (xâne, "house"). (Wiktionary)



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  • "… that by the time we reached the gate of the necropolis, the statue of Night atop the khan on the opposite bank was a minute scratch of black against the sun’s field of flame, …"
    —Gene Wolfe, The Book of the New Sun

    September 25, 2008


    April 4, 2007