- (among Shiʿites) a title in the religious hierarchy achieved by scholars who have demonstrated highly advanced knowledge of Islamic law and religion.
Origin of ayatollah
1975–80; < Persian < Arabic āyat allāh sign of God; cf. Allah
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for ayatollah
“Ayatollah Khomeini had a stroke in 1986 and became comatose,” says Khalaji.Ayatollah Khamenei’s Cancer Scare
September 20, 2014
When the Islamic Republic finally agreed to peace, its leader, Ayatollah Khomeini, likened it to drinking a cup of poison.Israel Must Take a More Diplomatic Approach Toward Iran
December 17, 2013
But John is sure that he can nurture Ayatollah to bring out the best in him, if only Tzipi and Saeb will do their best for Salaam.
Already in the womb, little Ayatollah is displaying worrisome signs.
It's for the crime of apostasy (in this case, writing a novel) that Ayatollah Khomenei sent death squads for Salman Rushdie.Don't Let the Maccabees Win
December 4, 2013
- one of a class of Iranian Shiite religious leaders
via Persian from Arabic, from aya sign + Allah god
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Word Origin and History for ayatollah
honorific title for an Iranian Shiite religious leader, 1950, from Persian, from Arabic ayatu-llah, literally "miraculous sign of God."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper