CARAVAN, s. P. karwan ; a convoy of travellers. The Ar. kafila is more generally used in India. The word is found in French as early as the 13th century (Littré). A quotation below shows that the English transfer of the word to a wheeled conveyance for travellers (now for goods also) dates from the 17th century. The abbreviation van in this sense seems to have acquired rights as an English word, though the altogether analogous bus is still looked on as slang.

c. 1270.—“Meanwhile the convoy (la caravana) from Tortosa…armed seven vessels in such wise that any one of them could take a galley if it ran alongside.”—Chronicle of James of Aragon, tr. by Foster, i. 379.

1330.—“De hac civitate recedens cum caravanis et cum quadam societate, ivi versus Indiam Superiorem.”—Friar Odoric, in Cathay, &c., ii. App. iii.

1384.—“Rimonda che l’avemo, vedemo venire una grandissima carovana di cammelli e di Saracini, che recavano spezierie delle parti d’ India.”—Frescobaldi, 64.

c. 1420.—“Is adolescens ab Damasco Syriae, ubi mercaturae gratiâ erat, perceptâ prius Arabum linguâ, in coetu mercatorum —hi sexcenti erant—quam vulgo caroanam dicunt.…”—N. Conti, in Poggius de Varietate Fortunae.

1627.—“A Caravan is a convoy of souldiers for the safety of merchants that trauell in the East Countreys.”—Minshew, 2nd ed. s.v.

1674.—“Caravan or Karavan (Fr. caravane) a Convoy of Souldiers for the safety of Merchants that travel by Land. Also of late corruptly used with us for a kind of Waggon to carry passengers to and from London.”—Glossographia, &c., by J. E.

CARAVANSERAY, s. P. karwansarai ; a Serai (q.v.) for the reception of Caravans (q.v.).

1404.—“And the next day being Tuesday, they departed thence and going about 2 leagues arrived at a great house like an Inn, which they call Carabansaca (read -sara), and here were Chacatays looking after the Emperor’s horses.”—Clavijo, § xcviii. Comp. Markham, p. 114.

[1528.—“In the Persian language they call these houses carvancaras, which means resting-place for caravans and strangers.” —Tenreiro, ii. p. 11.]

1554.—“I’ay à parler souuent de ce nom de Carbachara :…Ie ne peux le nommer autrement en François, sinon vn Carbachara : et pour le sçauoir donner à entendre, il fault supposer qu’il n’y a point d’hostelleries es pays ou domaine le Turc, ne de lieux pour se loger, sinon dedens celles maisons publiques appellée Carbachara. …”—Observations par P. Belon, f. 59.

1564.—“Hic diverti in diversorium publicum, Caravasarai Turcae vocant…vastum est aedificium…in cujus medio patet area ponendis sarcinis et camelis.”— Busbequii, Epist. i. (p. 35).

1619.—“…a great bazar, enclosed and roofed in, where they sell stuffs, cloths, &c. with the House of the Mint, and the great caravanserai, which bears the name of Lala Beig (because Lala Beig the Treasurer gives audiences, and does his business there) and another little caravanserai, called that of the Ghilac or people of Ghilan.”—P. della Valle (from Ispahan), ii. 8 ; [comp. Hak. Soc. i. 95].

1627.—“At Band Ally we found a neat Carravansraw or Inne…built by mens charity, to give all civill passengers a resting place gratis ; to keepe them from the injury of theeves, beasts, weather, &c.”—Herbert, p. 124.

CARAVEL, s. This often occurs in the old Portuguese narratives. The word is alleged to be not Oriental, but Celtic, and connected in its origin with the old British coracle ; see the quotation from Isidore of Seville, the indication of which we owe to Bluteau, s.v. The Portuguese caravel is described by the latter as a ‘round vessel’ (i.e. not long and sharp like a galley), with lateen sails, ordinarily of 200 tons burthen. The character of swiftness attributed to the caravel (see both Damian and Bacon below) has suggested to us whether the word has not come rather from the Persian Gulf—Turki karawul, ‘a scout, an outpost, a vanguard.’ Doubtless there are difficulties. [The N.E.D. says that it is probably the dim. of Sp. caraba.] The word is found in the following passage, quoted from the Life of St. Nilus, who died c. 1000, a date hardly consistent with Turkish origin. But the Latin translation is by Cardinal Sirlet, c. 1550, and the word may have been changed or modified :—

“Cogitavit enim in unaquaque Calabriae regione perficere navigia.… Id autem non ferentes Russani cives…simul irruentes ac tumultuantes navigia combusserunt et eas quae Caravellae appellantur secuerunt.” —In the Collection of Martene and Durand, vi. col. 930.

c. 638.—“Carabus, parua scafa ex vimine facta, quae contexta crudo corio genus navigii praebet.”—Isidori Hispal. Opera. (Paris, 1601), p. 255.

1492.—“So being one day importuned by the said Christopher, the Catholic King was persuaded by him that nothing should keep him from making this experiment ; and so effectual was this persuasion that they

  By PanEris using Melati.

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