• synonyms


[key-lif, kal-if]
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  1. caliph.
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or ca·lif, ka·lif, ka·liph, kha·lif

[key-lif, kal-if]
  1. a spiritual leader of Islam, claiming succession from Muhammad.
  2. any of the former Muslim rulers of Baghdad (until 1258) and of the Ottoman Empire (from 1571 until 1924).
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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
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for kalif

Historical Examples

  • He raised the lid and showed the wondering Kalif the two stones.

    The Strand Magazine, Volume VII, Issue 42, June, 1894


  • When they are blotted out, we take the sultan and kalif unawares!

    God Wills It!

    William Stearns Davis

  • The Kalif, Hakin, who founded the religion of the Druses, re-enacted this law.

    Dealings With The Dead

    A Sexton of the Old School

  • Because of Ayesha's intrigues Ali was unable to succeed Mohammed as kalif.

    Oriental Women

    Edward Bagby Pollard

  • The kalif, loath to put so brave a knight to death, cast him into prison.

British Dictionary definitions for kalif


  1. a variant spelling of caliph
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calif, kalif or khalif

  1. Islam the title of the successors of Mohammed as rulers of the Islamic world, later assumed by the Sultans of Turkey
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Word Origin

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 kalif



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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper