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harem

or haram, hareem, harim

[hair-uh m, har-] /ˈhɛər əm, ˈhær-/
noun
1.
the part of a Muslim palace or house reserved for the residence of women.
2.
the women in a Muslim household, including the mother, sisters, wives, concubines, daughters, entertainers, and servants.
3.
Animal Behavior. a social group of females, as elephant seals, accompanied or followed by one fertile male who denies other males access to the group.
4.
Facetious: Sometimes Offensive. a group of women associated in any way with one man or household:
I really resent it when our boss refers to us as his harem, though he's trying to be funny.
Origin of harem
1625-1635
1625-35; < Arabic harīm harem, literally, forbidden
Usage note
In the meaning “a group of women associated with one man,” harem is used for humorous effect. But this sense is sometimes perceived as insulting because it implies that the man collects women like objects.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for harem
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Shut up in his harem, the voice of justice seldom reached the ear of the monarch, and when it did, was scarcely heeded.

  • And to interfere with the inmate of a harem is just about impossible.

    It Happened in Egypt C. N. Williamson
  • Boges appeared to conduct him to the harem, which he was accustomed to visit at this hour, when sufficiently sober.

  • According to his lights, he's right not to allow any interference with his harem from Europeans.

    It Happened in Egypt C. N. Williamson
  • I shall in time grow sleepy, fat, and in a poor way contented; for such is the manner of the harem.

    God Wills It! William Stearns Davis
British Dictionary definitions for harem

harem

/ˈhɛərəm; hɑːˈriːm/
noun
1.
the part of an Oriental house reserved strictly for wives, concubines, etc
2.
a Muslim's wives and concubines collectively
3.
a group of female animals of the same species that are the mates of a single male
Word Origin
C17: from Arabic harīm forbidden (place)
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 harem
n.

1630s, from Turkish harem, from Arabic haram "wives and concubines," originally "women's quarters," literally "something forbidden or kept safe," from root of harama "he guarded, forbade."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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10
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