One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A female slave or concubine in a harem, especially one in the seraglio of the Sultan of Turkey.
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- ‘Fantasies of decadent odalisques can be dismissed, the harem was essentially the domain of the first wife and a power base for women.’
- ‘In 1992 it closed, and now it's full of clove smoke and odalisques.’
- ‘But so gaudy a style made her look like a pampered odalisque rather than the mother of the future king.’
Late 17th century: from French, from Turkish odalik, from oda ‘chamber’ + lik ‘function’.
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