car·​a·​van·​sa·​ry | \ ˌker-ə-ˈvan(t)-sə-rē How to pronounce caravansary (audio) , ˌka-rə- \
variants: or caravanserai \ ˌker-​ə-​ˈvan(t)-​sə-​ˌrī How to pronounce caravanserai (audio) , ˌka-​rə-​ \
plural caravansaries or caravanserais or caravanserai

Definition of caravansary

1 : an inn surrounding a court in eastern countries where caravans rest at night
2 : hotel, inn

Keep scrolling for more

Did You Know?

In the Middle East, caravans often lodged at caravansaries. These inns were quadrangular in form and enclosed by massive walls with small windows near the top. The central court, which was surrounded by an arcade and storerooms, was large enough to hold 300 to 400 camels. The name was formed from the word caravan and the Persian word sarāī, meaning "palace" or "inn." Caravansary can also be spelled caravanserai, and the word serai is used as a synonym for it.

Examples of caravansary in a Sentence

a caravansary designed specifically for self-styled cheapskates
Recent Examples on the Web Another of Bogaczewicz’s photographs captures a Saudi family having a picnic under a highway overpass, much as their bedouin ancestors might have stopped their caravansary by a desert wadi to have a meal. Wired, "Photo Gallery: Wild Juxtapositions of Saudi Arabia Modern and Ancient," 26 Nov. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'caravansary.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of caravansary

1599, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for caravansary

Persian kārvānsarāī, from kārvān caravan + sarāī palace, inn

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about caravansary

Time Traveler for caravansary

Time Traveler

The first known use of caravansary was in 1599

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast about caravansary

Statistics for caravansary

Cite this Entry

“Caravansary.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Sep. 2020.

More from Merriam-Webster on caravansary

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for caravansary Encyclopedia article about caravansary

Comments on caravansary

What made you want to look up caravansary? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Challenging Vocabulary Quiz Returns!

  • stylized drawing of woman pole vaulting across gap to get trophy
  • Which is a synonym of fuliginous?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!