• synonyms


noun, plural car·a·van·sa·ries.
  1. (in the Near East) an inn, usually with a large courtyard, for the overnight accommodation of caravans.
  2. any large inn or hotel.
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Also car·a·van·se·rai [kar-uh-van-suh-rahy, -rey] /ˌkær əˈvæn səˌraɪ, -ˌreɪ/.

Origin of caravansary

1590–1600; < French caravanserai < Persian kārwānsarāy, equivalent to kārwān caravan + sarāy mansion, inn
Related formscar·a·van·se·ri·al [kar-uh-van-seer-ee-uh l] /ˌkær ə vænˈsɪər i əl/, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for caravanserai

Historical Examples

  • It then became a question of a square meal at the caravanserai.

    On the Heels of De Wet

    The Intelligence Officer

  • The Sultan entered a caravanserai, where he found several merchants.

  • A caravanserai is not ill adapted to the purposes for which it is meant.


    A. W. Kinglake

  • Probably the reference is only to a resting-place or caravanserai.

    Bible Studies

    Joseph M. Wheeler

  • I will send you a picture of my Caravanserai, into which beasts come in and out.

British Dictionary definitions for caravanserai


caravansary (ˌkærəˈvænsərɪ)

noun plural -rais or -ries
  1. (in some Eastern countries esp formerly) a large inn enclosing a courtyard providing accommodation for caravans
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Word Origin

C16: from Persian kārwānsarāī caravan inn
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

Word Origin and History for caravanserai


1590s, carvanzara, "Eastern inn (with a large central court) catering to caravans," ultimately from Persian karwan-sarai, from karwan (see caravan) + sara'i "palace, mansion; inn," from Iranian base *thraya- "to protect" (see seraglio).

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alternative spelling of caravanserai.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper