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 caravansary (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

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In the Middle East of centuries past, 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, 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

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The first known use of caravansary was in 1599

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Cite this Entry

“Caravansary.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Aug. 2022.

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