Definitions

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

  • n. A concubine or woman slave in a harem.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A female slave in a harem, especially one in the Ottoman seraglio.
  • n. A desirable or sexually attractive woman.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A female slave or concubine in the harem of the Turkish sultan.

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

  • n. a woman slave in a harem

Etymologies

French, from Turkish ōdalik, chambermaid : ōdah, room + -lik, suff. expressing function.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From French, from Ottoman Turkish اوطه‌لق (odalık, "chambermaid"), from اوده (oda, "room"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • A further ironic implication of Farrell's, Boucher's, and Moore's use of the imagery of the odalisque is that the signification of "odalisque" as concubine is itself a projection of the European mind, since its original Turkish meaning is simply that of "'woman of the room [oda],' implying a general servant status" (Croutier 30-32).

    Irish Odalisques and Other Seductive Figures: Thomas Moore

  • Similarly, Boucher's model for an odalisque is not an actual Circassian, Georgian, or Abkhasian woman (as an odalisque in Turkey likely would have been) (Croutier 30); instead she is from Ireland, a not quite as foreign European colony, and the fantasy is safely controlled.

    Irish Odalisques and Other Seductive Figures: Thomas Moore

  • Whether Lalla Rookh, Larry Rourke, the Madonna Irlanda, or Mademoiselle O'Murphy, the Irish odalisque is no paradox or oxymoron.

    Irish Odalisques and Other Seductive Figures: Thomas Moore

  • If "odalisque" had been what Ray called an objectionable word, he would have thrown the picture out in the first place.

    The song of the lark

  • UP Pompeii: UK girl taken - to be turned into an "odalisque"

    UP Pompeii

  • "odalisque", it is not only white girls that are taken, many from India and Sri Lanka are also taken

    UP Pompeii

  • An elongated odalisque and a pair of unexpectedly spontaneous studies for the voluptuous fantasy "The Turkish Bath" remind us that distinctions between Romanticism and Neo-Classicism may be irrelevant.

    Drawn to Revolution

  • "Olympia," a contemporary odalisque propped on silken pillows, with a maid bearing flowers and a black cat in attendance, was accepted in 1865.

    Still Turning Black to Light

  • In "Feeling me" (2004), she shows herself naked, posed as an odalisque against a black background with her husband's hand (all we see of him) resting on her distended belly.

    Real Lives Put in Focus

  • From the young loner in his garret, a conventional archetype in a conventional style; to the prophet unrecognised in Paris, a Tahitian odalisque glowing behind him in the cold studio; right up to the shorn and spectacled invalid staring out of the blue twilight of his days.

    Gauguin: Maker of Myth

Comments

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  • odalisque- a chambermaid who was usually a virgin that was given to the sultan as a gift; if she was pretty she would move from being low on the totem pole to concubine , another wife.

    February 19, 2011

  • oh I love this word, thanks for posting it

    April 30, 2009

  • In the mermaid suit Z[ora] was none too mobile and stretched out across the couch, a Piscean odalisque.
    —Jeffrey Eugenides, 2002, Middlesex, p. 495

    August 17, 2008