Definition of harem
- the pop star and his harem
- Researchers who study elk have determined that the males who possess the largest harems of females not only sport the largest racks of antlers, but also the most symmetrical ones.
- —Natalie Angier
the pop star and his harem
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'harem.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
In a Muslim household, a harem is a part of a house set apart for women and from which nonfamily males are excluded. Harems existed in the pre-Islamic civilizations of the Middle East and in the courts of pre-Islamic Assyria, Persia, and Egypt. The harem was also found in the courts of China and Japan as well as in India and southeast Asia. Large harems for wives and concubines were common in wealthy Arab households into the 20th century; the great harem of the Turkish sultans (15th–20th century) contained several hundred women, guarded by eunuchs. By the later 20th century, the full harem system remained only among conservative elements of Arab society.
First Known Use: 1634See Words from the same year
: a house or part of a house in which the women of a Muslim household live
: the women who live in a harem in a Muslim household
: a group of women who are associated with one man
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