or ca·lif, ka·lif, ka·liph, kha·lif

[ 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).

Nearby words

  1. caliorrhaphy,
  2. calipash,
  3. calipee,
  4. caliper,
  5. caliper rule,
  6. caliphal,
  7. caliphate,
  8. calippus,
  9. calisaya,
  10. calisthenics

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 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for caliphal

British Dictionary definitions for caliphal


calif, kalif or khalif

/ (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 for caliph

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 caliphal



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