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ayatollah

[ah-yuh-toh-luh]
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noun
  1. (among Shiʿites) a title in the religious hierarchy achieved by scholars who have demonstrated highly advanced knowledge of Islamic law and religion.
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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

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British Dictionary definitions for ayatollah

ayatollah

noun
  1. one of a class of Iranian Shiite religious leaders
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Word Origin

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

n.

honorific title for an Iranian Shiite religious leader, 1950, from Persian, from Arabic ayatu-llah, literally "miraculous sign of God."

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper