Stories We Like: Novels For Language Lovers
"nymph of Muslim paradise," 1737, from French houri (1650s), from Persian huri "nymph in Paradise," from Arabic haura "to be beautifully dark-eyed," like a gazelle + -i, Persian formative element denoting the singular.
in Islam, a beautiful maiden who awaits the devout Muslim in paradise. The Arabic word hawra' signifies the contrast of the clear white of the eye to the blackness of the iris. There are numerous references to the houri in the Qur'an describing them as "purified wives" and "spotless virgins." Tradition elaborated on the sensual image of the houri and defined some of her functions; on entering paradise, for example, the believer is presented with a large number of houris, with each of whom he may cohabit once for each day he has fasted in Ramadan and once for each good work he has performed.