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From Italian seraglio, from Vulgar Latin *serrāculum, from a late form of Latin serāre (lock up, close), from sera (lock, bolt). The Italian word was used (because of phonetic similarity) to translate Persian سرای (sarāy, lodgings, residence). Compare serai, serail.


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An Italian-type pronunciation would be something like "se-ra-lyo", but in a poem by Rudyard Kipling the meter shows a 4-syllable phonetic pronunciation "se-rag-li-o".


seraglio (plural seraglios)

  1. The palace of the Grand Seignior in Constantinople.
  2. The sequestered living quarters used by wives and concubines (odalisques) in a Turkish Muslim household.
  3. A brothel or place of debauchery.
  4. An interior cage or enclosed courtyard for keeping wild beasts.