[ mah-dee ]
/ ˈmɑ di /

noun, plural Mah·dis.

the Muslim messiah, an expected spiritual and temporal ruler destined to establish a reign of righteousness throughout the world.
any of various claimants to this role, especially Muhammad Ahmed, who established an independent government in the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan that lasted until 1898.

Origin of Mahdi

First recorded in 1790–1800, Mahdi is from the Arabic word mahdīy he who is guided

Related formsMah·dism [mah-diz-uh m] /ˈmɑ dɪz əm/, nounMah·dist, noun, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for mahdi


/ (ˈmɑːdɪ) /


the title assumed by Mohammed Ahmed. ?1843–85, Sudanese military leader, who led a revolt against Egypt (1881) and captured Khartoum (1885)
Islam any of a number of Muslim messiahs expected to convert all mankind to Islam
Derived FormsMahdism, nounMahdist, noun, adjective

Word Origin for Mahdi

Arabic mahdīy one who is guided, from madā to guide aright

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 mahdi



1792, from Arabic mahdiy, literally "he who is guided aright," past participle of hada "to lead in the right way." Spiritual and temporal leader expected by some Muslims. Applied c.1880 to insurrectionary leaders in the Sudan who claimed to be him. Related: Mahdism.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper