[ hair-uhm, har- ]
See synonyms for harem on Thesaurus.com
  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.

  1. 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.

  2. 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

First recorded in 1625–35; from Turkish ḥarem “female quarters,” from Arabic ḥarīm “sacred or inviolable space, sanctuary; female members of a family; harem,” literally, “forbidden,” from ḥarama “to prohibit, deny”
  • Sometimes ha·ram, ha·rim; ha·reem [huh-reem] /həˈrim/ .

usage note For harem

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 by or to women because it implies that the man collects women like objects.

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use harem in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for harem


hareem (hɑːˈriːm)

/ (ˈhɛərəm, hɑːˈriːm) /

  1. the part of an Oriental house reserved strictly for wives, concubines, etc

  2. a Muslim's wives and concubines collectively

  1. a group of female animals of the same species that are the mates of a single male

Origin of harem

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