• synonyms


[kuh-leef, key-lif, kal-if]
  1. caliph.
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Also kha·li·fa [kuh-lee-fuh] /kəˈli fə/.


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 khalif

Historical Examples of khalif

  • There had been the usual lapse into anarchy and weakness after the Great Khalif's death.

    A Short History of Spain

    Mary Platt Parmele

  • The retort of the khalif must have given them the surprise of their lives.

  • And the khalif answered, that he believed he had enough of his own proper men.

  • The palace of the khalif at Bagdad is three miles in extent.

  • He was proclaimed the first khalif, or successor of the Prophet.

British Dictionary definitions for khalif


  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 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 khalif



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