noun Islam.

the officiating priest of a mosque.
the title for a Muslim religious leader or chief.
one of a succession of seven or twelve religious leaders, believed to be divinely inspired, of the Shiʿites.

Also i·maum [ih-mahm, ih-mawm] /ɪˈmɑm, ɪˈmɔm/.

Origin of imam

First recorded in 1605–15, imam is from the Arabic word imām leader, guide
Related formsi·mam·ship, noun
Can be confusedclergy cleric imam minister pastor priest rabbi Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for imam

Contemporary Examples of imam

Historical Examples of imam

  • The Imam is good, the Imam is holy; who so good and holy as the Imam?

    The Scapegoat

    Hall Caine

  • But Habeebah had remained a Muslim, and she was for calling the Imam.

    The Scapegoat

    Hall Caine

  • During the last few years the Imam has kept the Czar well at bay.

    Life of Schamyl

    John Milton Mackie

  • In one tradition He is called 'Imam al ashin,' 'Leader of the wanderers.'

  • But we have an Imam (leader) who is an infallible judge and needs no proofs.

British Dictionary definitions for imam


imaum (ɪˈmɑːm, ɪˈmɔːm)

noun Islam

a leader of congregational prayer in a mosque
a caliph, as leader of a Muslim community
an honorific title applied to eminent doctors of Islam, such as the founders of the orthodox schools
any of a succession of either seven or twelve religious leaders of the Shiites, regarded by their followers as divinely inspired

Word Origin for imam

C17: from Arabic: leader, from amma he guided
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 imam

1610s, from Arabic, literally "leader; one who precedes," from amma "to go before, precede."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper