Ayatollah definition

īyə-tōlə, -tō-lä
A leader of the Shiite sect of the Muslim religion, serving as teacher, judge, and administrator.
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A religious leader in Twelver Shi'ism; a member of the ’ulama.
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A high-ranking Shiite religious authority regarded as worthy of imitation in matters of religious law and interpretation.
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Used as a title for such a leader.
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A leader, authority, etc. having much power or influence.
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Other Word Forms

Noun

Singular:
ayatollah
Plural:
ayatollahs

Origin of ayatollah

  • Persian āyatollāh from Arabic ’āyatu llāh sign of God ’āyatu bound form of ’āya sign, Koranic verse ℵwy in Semitic roots allāh Allah Allah

    From American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition

  • Borrowing from Persian آیت‌الله (âyatollâh), from Arabic آية الله ('āyatu-llāh, “sign of God”)

    From Wiktionary