• synonyms


[key-lif, kal-if]
See more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
  1. caliph.


or ca·lif, ka·lif, ka·liph, kha·lif

[key-lif, kal-if]
  1. a spiritual leader of Islam, claiming succession from Muhammad.
  2. any of the former Muslim rulers of Baghdad (until 1258) and of the Ottoman Empire (from 1571 until 1924).

Origin of caliph

1350–1400; Middle English caliphe, califfe < Middle French < Medieval Latin calipha < Arabic khalīf(a) successor (of Muhammad), derivative of khalafa succeed
Related formscal·iph·al [kal-uh-fuh l, key-luh-] /ˈkæl ə fəl, ˈkeɪ lə-/, adjective


  1. California.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for calif

Historical Examples

  • The calif, after hearing what the embassador had to say, refused to comply.

    Genghis Khan, Makers of History Series

    Jacob Abbott

  • The calif knew not which to admire most, the generosity of Nadir or the soldier.

  • After that Almamon the Calif entered Ægypt, and saw the Pyramids.

    Thalaba the Destroyer

    Robert Southey

  • Calif Mdowija, who died in 679, is regarded as the founder of the Arabian posts.

  • Its populations belong to it by descent; its head is the Calif (now the Sultan of Turkey).

British Dictionary definitions for calif


  1. a variant spelling of caliph


abbreviation for
  1. California


calif, kalif or khalif

  1. Islam the title of the successors of Mohammed as rulers of the Islamic world, later assumed by the Sultans of Turkey

Word Origin

C14: from Old French, from Arabic khalīfa successor
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 calif



late 14c., from Old French caliphe (12c., also algalife), from Medieval Latin califa, from Arabic khalifa "successor," originally Abu-Bakr, who succeeded Muhammad in the role of leader of the faithful after the prophet's death.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper