ze·​na·​na zə-ˈnä-nə How to pronounce zenana (audio)
: the part of a Hindu or Muslim dwelling (as in India) that is reserved for the women of the household
… she had one distinct advantage where she could trump her male rivals: her access to Indian zenanas. No Englishman could go into the quarters of Indian women, and Fanny [Parkes] was determined to make the most of the opportunity and to report from beyond a frontier that her rivals could not cross.William Dalrymple

Examples of zenana in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The latter were sequestered from view and segregated in living quarters known as the zenana. Sharmila Mukherjee, The Seattle Times, 2 Jan. 2019 This made the zenana, or women’s quarters, an influential center of tastemakers and consumers. Lee Lawrence, WSJ, 10 Mar. 2018

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'zenana.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Hindi & Urdu zanāna, from Persian, from zan woman

First Known Use

1760, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of zenana was in 1760

Dictionary Entries Near zenana

Cite this Entry

“Zenana.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/zenana. Accessed 12 Apr. 2024.

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