ayatollah

[ ah-yuh-toh-luh ]
/ ˌɑ yəˈtoʊ lə /

noun

(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
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British Dictionary definitions for ayatollah

ayatollah

/ (ˌaɪəˈtɒlə) /

noun

one of a class of Iranian Shiite religious leaders

Word Origin for ayatollah

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