Definition of harem
1a : a usually secluded house or part of a house allotted to women in some Muslim householdsb : 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
the pop star and his harem
Recent Examples of harem from the Web
We were given the stink eye by a bull moose and his harem.
After emerging from the swamp, Ri is donning a headscarf, zebra print one-piece swimsuit and matching gloves, along with her red harem pants, while dancing around a post-apocalyptic desert with her male backup dancers.
This is a harem species in which some males mate with several females and others mate with none, so perhaps this all-or-nothing competition for females’ affections drives the complexity of the songs.
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
First Known Use: 1634See Words from the same year
HAREM Defined for English Language Learners
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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