The Meaning of Harem: What It Is and How To Use It

What is the meaning of harem, and how is this word used? This article will teach you about all of the different meanings of the word harem.

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The word harem is a noun that has several possible meanings. The word harem has two syllables (har-em), and the pronunciation of harem is her-əm. Read on to learn more about what this new word means!

What Does the Word Harem Mean?

The word harem can refer to a secluded part of a home that Muslim households reserve for women. It can also refer to the women that occupy that part of the house, such as wives, female relatives, concubines, and servants. Harems have existed throughout the Middle East and in places like Persia, pre-Islamic Assyria, Egypt, India, China, and Japan.

A harem within the home is a part of traditional Arab culture and is part of a Muslim palace where wives live as a group. This private part of an Arab household is inaccessible to male strangers.

The word harem can also be used in the animal kingdom to refer to a group of female animals that are only associated with one polygamous male animal. Such behaviour is seen in species like sea lions, cattle like cows and a bull, buffalo, bovids, moose, sea elephants, elephant seals, and more. The fertile male mates with the group of females as sexual partners.

Finally, a harem is also seen as a genre in anime and manga in which one male character like a pop star or celebrity is followed around by a posse of women who are in love with him.

What Are Translations of the Word Harem?

The religion of Islam and Muslim people exist all over the world. Because the word harem refers to a traditionally Muslim concept, the word harem has translations in numerous languages. 

If you are planning on traveling to a place where Islam is the predominant religion or you are discussing the concept of a harem with someone who doesn’t speak English, you can reference this list of translations of the word harem to learn how to say harem in other languages:

  • Indonesian: harem‎
  • Esperanto: haremo‎
  • Macedonian: харем‎ (masc.)
  • Armenian: կանանոց‎, հարեմ‎
  • Bengali: হারেম‎
  • Thai: ฮาเร็ม‎
  • Uyghur: ھەرەمخانا‎
  • Hindi: हरम‎
  • Galician: harén‎ (masc.)
  • Georgian: ჰარამხანა‎
  • French: harem‎ (masc.)
  • Uzbek: haram‎, haramxona‎
  • Roman: harem‎ (masc.), haremluk‎ (masc.)
  • Polish: harem‎ (masc.)
  • Tatar: хәрәм‎
  • Japanese: ハーレム‎ (hāremu), 後宮‎ (こうきゅう, kōkyū)
  • Swedish: harem‎ (neut.)
  • Kazakh: харам‎, харамхана‎, гарем‎
  • Ukrainian: гаре́м‎ (masc.)
  • Bokmål: harem‎
  • Czech: harém‎ (masc.)
  • Turkish: harem‎
  • Icelandic: kvennabúr‎ (neut.)
  • Dutch: harem‎
  • Portuguese: harém‎ (masc.)
  • Arabic: حَرِيم‎ (masc.), حَرَمْلِك‎ (masc.)
  • Bulgarian: харе́м‎ (masc.)
  • Ido: haremo‎
  • Slovak: hárem‎ (masc.)
  • German: Harem‎ (masc.)
  • Kyrgyz: гарем‎
  • Vietnamese: hậu cung‎
  • Malay: haram‎, harem‎
  • Belarusian: гарэ́м‎ (masc.)
  • Azeri: hərəm‎, hərəmxana‎
  • Danish: harem‎
  • Korean: 하렘‎, 후궁‎
  • Urdu: حرم‎ (haram)
  • Catalan: harem‎ (masc.)
  • Russian: гаре́м‎ (masc.)
  • Turkmen: harem‎, haremhana‎
  • Persian: حریم‎ (harim), حرم‌سرا‎ (haramsarâ), حرم‎ (haram)
  • Cyrillic: харем‎ (masc.), харемлук‎ (masc.)
  • Greek: χαρέμι‎ (neut.)
  • Mandarin: 後宮‎, 后宫‎ (hòugōng)
  • Hebrew: הרמון‎
  • Tajik: ҳарам‎, ҳарамхона‎, ҳарамсаро‎
  • Finnish: haaremi‎
  • Slovene: harem‎ (masc.)
  • Albanian: harem‎ (masc.)

What Is the Etymology of the Word Harem?

According to Your Dictionary of the English Language, the word harem is Turkish. This word comes from the Turkish haram or harem and the Arabic ḥarīm or ḥaram, referring to a forbidden place. It also comes from the Arabic harama, ḥarama, and ḥaruma (حريم, حرم), meaning to prohibit. These words come from x̣rm in Semitic roots.

How Can the Word Harem Be Used in a Sentence?

The word harem can be used in numerous English sentences to refer to the women’s quarters of a home, a social group of women, or an animal with an entourage. Look at the below example sentences to learn how to use the word harem in each of these contexts:

The women stayed in the harem while the strange men approached the door; they vowed to protect each other if anything went wrong.

There was a harem of female sea lions following the alpha male of the group. They all fought for his attention.

The harem of young girls followed the pop star around the concert’s backstage area. They were all totally obsessed and in love with him. 

The woman was led to the harem by the man’s other wives. She was young and very nervous, but the rest of the women were able to make her feel welcome.

What Are Synonyms of the Word Harem?

If you are looking for a word that is similar to the word harem but does not have religious connotations, using a synonym can be a great solution. This list of synonyms from Power Thesaurus lists numerous words that can be used in the place of the word harem. 

  • band
  • bawdyhouse
  • belly-dancer
  • bordello
  • boudoir
  • brothel
  • concubines
  • cortege
  • entourage
  • fireside
  • gynaeceum
  • hareem
  • haremlik
  • haren
  • harim
  • harlem
  • harmon
  • harram
  • hearth
  • palace
  • personnel
  • purdah
  • retinue
  • seraglio
  • sanctuary
  • serai
  • serail
  • service
  • section of a house
  • women’s quarters
  • zenana


The word harem has a few different meanings. It can be used to refer to a group of women or social group of females, part of a Muslim palace or house meant for women that no males access, or the multiple female partners of a single dominant male in the animal kingdom. 


  1. Harem Meaning | Best 11 Definitions of Harem | Your Dictionary 
  2. Harem synonyms – 59 Words and Phrases for Harem | Power Thesaurus 
  3. Harem Definition & Meaning |