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or calif, kalif, kaliph, khalif

[key-lif, kal-if] /ˈkeɪ lɪf, ˈkæl ɪf/
a spiritual leader of Islam, claiming succession from Muhammad.
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 forms
[kal-uh-fuh l, key-luh-] /ˈkæl ə fəl, ˈkeɪ lə-/ (Show IPA),
adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for caliph
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The caliph, who knew his merit, had entire confidence in him.

    Vivian Grey Earl of Beaconsfield, Benjamin Disraeli
  • The first clock that ever measured time was made for the caliph of Bagdad.

  • You, good reader, are the caliph,—the mock magician is myself.

    One Of Them Charles James Lever
  • Saddle my horse—not the black I rode yesterday—the fresh one, caliph.

    The Long Roll Mary Johnston
  • He became the astronomer and physician of the caliph Motadhid.

  • I went immediately to wait upon the caliph, and gave him an account of my embassy.

  • The sultan and the caliph are still hovering on the borders of the province.'

    Alroy Benjamin Disraeli
  • The caliph repaired to his cabinet, where his secretaries were occupied in writing.

    Alroy Benjamin Disraeli
  • These were in turn offered to the caliph and the Sultana by their surrounding attendants.

    Alroy Benjamin Disraeli
British Dictionary definitions for caliph


/ˈkeɪlɪf; ˈkæl-/
(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
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Word Origin and History for caliph

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
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