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Alternative forms[edit]


From Mandarin 上都 (Shàngdū). The first Romanized form comes from Marco Polo's writings in Italian as Shan-Du. In 1617, Purchas his Pilgrimage [] by Samuel Purchas was published in London, containing the phrase “In Xamdu did Cublai Can build a stately Palace” on page 472. This was the inspiration for Coleridge's poem which uses the spelling Xanadu.


  • IPA(key): /ˈzænəduː/
  • (file)

Proper noun[edit]


  1. (historical) The summer capital of Kublai Khan's empire.


Xanadu (plural Xanadus)

  1. (figurative) A place full of beauty, happiness and wonder.
    Synonyms: heaven, paradise, Shangri-La
    • 1991, Don Rosa, “Return to Xanadu”, in Uncle Scrooge, volumes 261-262, page 5:
      That's from the poem of the legend of Kubla Kahn's palace in the lost valley of Xanadu! Alph was the river in the legend! Unca Scrooge, this is the road to Xanadu! You've hit the jackpot! The most wondrous valley on earth! The land of milk and honey!
      Refers to Kubla Khan, a poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
    • 2003, Party Animals (lyrics and music), “Xanadu”‎[1]:
      A place where nobody dared to go
      The love that we came to know
      They call it Xanadu
      And now, open your eyes and see
      What we have made is real
      We are in Xanadu
    • 2013, Esther Allen, Susan Bernofsky, In Translation: Translators on Their Work and What It Means, page 240:
      The lyric, as the ideological critics in particular would have it, plays host to a panoply of enticing pipe dreams conjured up by benighted idealists whose visions are doomed in advance to frustration as reality fails, time and again, to ratify their various Xanadus and Byzantiums.
    • 2013, Mary Daheim, The Alpine Xanadu, page 319:
      I never guessed that when I stumbled into the sheriff's office on a warm August afternoon, I'd met my future. I'd had no dream of finding my own little Eden, my snowcapped paradise, my Xanadu in the Valley of the Sky.
  2. An opulent building or resort that provides entertainment or luxurious living.
    Synonym: pleasure palace
    • 1994, Gregory D. Black, Hollywood Censored: Morality Codes, Catholics, and the Movies, page 21:
      “The United States in the twenties was dotted with a thousand Xanadus,” wrote movie-theater historian Ben Hall."
    • 2003, Jim Bell, Stephen Brown, David Carson, Marketing Apocalypse: Eschatology, Escapology and the Illusion of the End.:
      The postmodern Xanadus that support this hallucination in the desert offer a particularly attractive paradise of the popular.
    • 2011, John McPhee, Oranges, page 68:
      The Normans went Muslim with such remarkable style that even Muslim poets were soon praising the new Norman Xanadus. Of one such place, which included nine brooks and a small lake with an island covered with lemon and orange trees, the poet Abd ur-Rahman Ibn Mohammed Ibn Omar wrote: []
    • 2012, Mario Puzo, Fools Die, page 6:
      Under the blazing Nevada sun, a dozen Xanadus glittered with million-watt neon signs.
    • 2012, Gavin Souter, Times & Tides: A Middle Harbour Memoir:
      My only company among the vanished pleasures was a four-foot-long goanna, warily immobile on the stone wall, then slowly climbing a tree trunk, pausing now and then to check on me. Elsewhere in Middle Harbour there are half a dozen other abandoned Xanadus.

See also[edit]