ayatollah[ī′yə tō′lə, -tō lä′; ä′yä-]
- 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: Arabic literally , sign of God ; from āyat, sign plush Allah, Allah
Used by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
- 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: Persian 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.