- a leader of the Shiite sect of the Muslim religion, serving as teacher, judge, and administrator
- a leader, authority, etc. having much power or influence
Origin of ayatollahAr, literally , sign of God ; from ?yat, sign + Allah, Allah
- A high-ranking Shiite religious authority regarded as worthy of imitation in matters of religious law and interpretation.
- Used as a title for such a leader.
Origin of ayatollahPersian āyatollāh, from Arabic ’āyatu llāh, sign of God : ’āyatu, bound form of ’āya, sign, Koranic verse; see ℵwy in Semitic roots + allāh, Allah; see Allah.