harem

noun har·em \ ˈher-əm \
Updated on: 7 Nov 2017

Definition of harem

1 a :a usually secluded house or part of a house allotted to women in some Muslim households
b :the wives, concubines, female relatives, and servants occupying a harem
2 informal :a group of women associated with one man
  • the pop star and his harem
3 :a group of females associated with one male used of polygamous animals
  • 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

Examples of harem in a Sentence

  1. the pop star and his harem

Recent Examples of harem from the Web

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.

Did You Know?

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.

Origin and Etymology of harem

ultimately from Arabic ḥarīm, literally, something forbidden & ḥaram, literally, sanctuary


HAREM Defined for English Language Learners

harem

noun

Definition of harem for English Language Learners

  • : 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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