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Shiʿah

or Shi·ʿa

[shee-uh]
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noun Islam.
  1. (used with a plural verb) the Shiʿites.
  2. (used with a singular verb) Shiʿite.

Origin of Shiʿah

First recorded in 1620–30, Shiʿah is from the Arabic word shīʿah literally, sect

Shiʿite

[shee-ahyt]
noun Islam.
  1. a member of one of the two great religious divisions of Islam that regards Ali, the son-in-law of Muhammad, as the legitimate successor of Muhammad, and disregards the three caliphs who succeeded him.
Also Shi·ite, Shiʿa, Shiʿah, Shi·ʿi [shee-ee, shee-ee] /ʃiˈi, ˈʃi i/.
Compare Sunni(def 1).

Origin of Shiʿite

Related formsShi·ʿism [shee-iz-uh m] /ˈʃi ɪz əm/, nounShi·ʿit·ic [shee-it-ik] /ʃiˈɪt ɪk/, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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Word Origin and History for shia

Shia

n.

also Shiah, 1620s, a collective name for one of the two great Muslim sects, from Arabic shi'ah "partisans, followers, sect, company, faction" (from sha'a "to follow"). This is the proper use, but it commonly is used in English to mean "a Shiite." In Arabic, shi'ah is the name of the sect, shiya'iy is a member of the sect.

The branch of Islam that recognizes Ali, Muhammad's son-in-law, as the lawful successor of the Prophet; the minority who believed, after the death of the Prophet, that spiritual and political authority followed his family line, as opposed to the Sunni, who took Abu Bakr as the political leader of the community. The Arabic name is short for Shi'at Ali "the party of Ali."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper