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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.
Origin of caravan
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 caravan
  • Days ago, your group of adventurers joined a desert caravan.
  • The pall of fatality that hangs over this motley caravan provides an undercurrent of mordant comedy.
  • Follow a caravan across the unforgiving desert, an impossible journey without camels.
  • Halfway across the desert, a terribly sandstorm struck, separating your party from the rest of the caravan.
  • Litter drifts around empty pitches, wasps hover near overflowing bins and dogs bark outside each embattled caravan.
  • Salt from the desert had great value and, along with other caravan goods, enriched the city in its heyday.
  • The camel was on its feet again and strong enough to keep up with the caravan.
  • At the moment the command was given for the caravan to move out, thunder rumbled ominously from the west.
  • The vehicles in the caravan carrying the federal agents were unmarked.
  • Humans have been weaving commercial and cultural connections since before the first camel caravan ventured afield.
British Dictionary definitions for caravan


  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 caravan

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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