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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.