Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A large harem.
  • noun A sultan's palace.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun An inclosure; a place to which certain persons are confined, or where they are restricted within prescribed bounds.
  • noun A walled palace; specifically, the chief or official palace of the Sultan of Turkey at Constantinople. It is of great size, and contains government buildings, mosques, etc., as well as the sultan's harem.
  • noun A place for the seclusion of concubines; a harem; hence, a place of licentious pleasure.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun obsolete An inclosure; a place of separation.
  • noun The palace of the Grand Seignior, or Turkish sultan, at Constantinople, inhabited by the sultan himself, and all the officers and dependents of his court. In it are also kept the females of the harem.
  • noun A harem; a place for keeping wives or concubines; sometimes, loosely, a place of licentious pleasure; a house of debauchery.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun The palace of the Grand Seignior in Constantinople.
  • noun The sequestered living quarters used by wives and concubines in a Turkish Muslim household.
  • noun A brothel or place of debauchery.
  • noun An interior cage or enclosed courtyard for keeping wild beasts.

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

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

Etymologies

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

[Italian serraglio, enclosure, seraglio, probably partly from Vulgar Latin *serraculum, enclosure (from *serrāre, to lace up, from Latin serāre, from sera, door-bar) and partly from Turkish saray, palace (from Persian sarāy, inn; see terə- in Indo-European roots).]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Italian seraglio, from Vulgar Latin *serrāculum, from a late form of Latin serāre ("lock up, close"), from sera ("lock, bolt"). The Italian word was used (because of phonetic similarity) to translate Persian سرای (sarāy, "lodgings, residence"). Compare serai, serail.

Examples

  • Christian writers and readers are too apt to confound the seraglio with the harem, and to suppose that the former means the apartments belonging to the sultan's ladies; whereas the word seraglio, or rather _sernil_, represents the entire palace of which the harem, or females 'dwelling, is but a comparatively small portion.

    Wagner, the Wehr-Wolf

  • In fact, the harem was the section of the palace that housed the sultan’s family and was known as the seraglio.

    The Thieves of Darkness

  • In fact, the harem was the section of the palace that housed the sultan’s family and was known as the seraglio.

    The Thieves of Darkness

  • In fact, the harem was the section of the palace that housed the sultan’s family and was known as the seraglio.

    The Thieves of Darkness

  • "Well, yes, I think so," said Jack; "dancing Circassian girls and the seraglio was the topic of the conversation, unless I am wandering in my mind."

    Jack Harkaway's Boy Tinker Among The Turks Book Number Fifteen in the Jack Harkaway Series

  • The seraglio is a vast inclosure, occupying nearly the entire site of the ancient city of Byzantium, and embracing a circumference of five miles.

    Wagner, the Wehr-Wolf

  • Manon Baletti, who was too happy to have had an opportunity of spewing her affection for me; and her joy was full when I told her that I was going to give up business, for she thought that my seraglio was the only obstacle to my marriage with her.

    The memoirs of Jacques Casanova de Seingalt

  • Afterwards I went to sup with Manon Baletti, who was too happy to have had an opportunity of spewing her affection for me; and her joy was full when I told her that I was going to give up business, for she thought that my seraglio was the only obstacle to my marriage with her.

    The Complete Memoirs of Jacques Casanova

  • Afterwards I went to sup with Manon Baletti, who was too happy to have had an opportunity of spewing her affection for me; and her joy was full when I told her that I was going to give up business, for she thought that my seraglio was the only obstacle to my marriage with her.

    Memoirs of Casanova — Volume 12: Return to Paris

  • The luscious passion of the seraglio is the only one almost that is gratified here to the full; but it is blended so with the surly spirit of despotism in one of the parties, and with the dejection and anxiety which this spirit produces in the other, that, to one of my way of thinking, it cannot appear otherwise than as a very mixed kind of enjoyment.

    Letters of the Right Honourable Lady M--y W--y M--e

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