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[kar-uh-van] /ˈkær əˌvæn/
a group of travelers, as merchants or pilgrims, journeying together for safety in passing through deserts, hostile territory, etc.
any group traveling in or as if in a caravan and using a specific mode of transportation, as pack animals or motor vehicles:
a caravan of trucks; a camel caravan.
a large covered vehicle for conveying passengers, goods, a sideshow, etc.; van.
Chiefly British. a house on wheels; trailer.
verb (used with object), caravaned or caravanned, caravaning or caravanning.
to carry in or as if in a caravan:
Trucks caravaned food and medical supplies to the flood's survivors.
verb (used without object), caravaned or caravanned, caravaning or caravanning.
to travel in or as if in a caravan:
They caravaned through Egypt.
1590-1600; earlier carovan < Italian carovana < Persian kārwān
Related forms
caravanist, noun
1. parade, procession, train, cavalcade, band. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for caravans
  • Long caravans of wretched prisoners were moved from camp to camp too and must have been seen at such times.
  • The masterfully composed scenes of weddings and funerals, courts and caravans call up the fabulous.
  • Then, the plots were neatly kept, and the chalets and caravans immaculate.
  • Since they won't pull a wagon, caravans had to choose between wheels and the beast of burden best adapted to the desert by far.
  • The scorching deserts are still the domain of camel caravans.
  • It was these profitable caravans, in fact, that first brought scholars to congregate at the site.
  • But as new sea routes opened and faster ships were built, land caravans slipped into obsolescence.
  • caravans came loaded with exotic goods redolent of distant lands.
  • With little visibility, the caravans become separated.
  • So they traveled in caravans and made livings as entertainers and seasonal workers and by selling merchandise from faraway lands.
British Dictionary definitions for caravans


  1. a large enclosed vehicle capable of being pulled by a car or lorry and equipped to be lived in US and Canadian name trailer
  2. (as modifier): a caravan site
(esp in some parts of Asia and Africa) a company of traders or other travellers journeying together, often with a train of camels, through the desert
a group of wagons, pack mules, camels, etc, esp travelling in single file
a large covered vehicle, esp a gaily coloured one used by Romany Gypsies, circuses, etc
verb -vans, -vanning, -vanned
(intransitive) (Brit) to travel or have a holiday in a caravan
Derived Forms
caravanning, noun
Word Origin
C16: from Italian caravana, from Persian kārwān
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for caravans



1580s, from Middle French caravane, from Old French carvane, carevane "caravan" (13c.), or Medieval Latin caravana, picked up during the Crusades from Persian karwan "group of desert travelers" (which Klein connects to Sanskrit karabhah "camel"). Used in English for "vehicle" 17c., especially for a covered cart. Hence, in modern British use (from 1930s), often a rough equivalent of the U.S. mobile home.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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