One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
nounPlural caravansaries, Plural caravanserais
1historical An inn with a central courtyard for travellers in the desert regions of Asia or North Africa.
- ‘The caravanserais, souks, hammams and charitable institutions which share the same architectural language throughout the Muslim world are not compared or discussed.’
- ‘Once, as the derelict caravanserais that litter the landscape mutely testify, the Silk Route ran through the Mazandaran.’
- ‘Sheki is also known for its huge caravanserais of which it once had five, a time when local silk was a valued commodity on Caucasian trade routes.’
- ‘‘Like Genghis Khan come to Chinatown,’ is how a friend once described this former Silk Route caravanserai on market day.’
- ‘Said to be one of the oldest preserved caravanserais in the world, maybe a thousand years, it wears its age and restoration with solidity rather than elegance.’
2A group of people travelling together; a caravan.
- ‘What a scene it must have been for the immense army of journalists, lobbyists and poules de luxe who follow the Euro parliament's caravanserai from Brussels to Strasbourg.’
- ‘Not unlike the early explorers and their caravanserai of botanists, scientists and illustrators who meticulously documented the areas they visited, Martin and her colleagues made their own recordings of what they saw.’
- ‘There is a lot of sense for eight or nine of the major heads of state getting together privately to discuss issues in an informal way without this huge caravanserai of pressmen and aides and assistants.’
- ‘Once the media caravanserai moves on to the next global flashpoint, we will likely ignore the messy aftermath to the heroic events of last week.’
- ‘Someone wrote more acutely that The Hound in the Left-Hand Corner does for a great museum what Arnold Bennett - ‘a no less notable connoisseur of luxury’ - did for the international caravanserai in his Grand Babylon Hotel.’
Late 16th century: from Persian kārwānsarāy, from kārwān ‘caravan’ + sarāy ‘palace’.
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