[ sheek, sheyk ]
/ ʃik, ʃeɪk /


Also shaikh, sheikh. (in Islamic countries) the patriarch of a tribe or family; chief: a term of polite address.
Slang. a man held to be masterful and irresistibly charming to women.

Origin of sheik

First recorded in 1570–80, sheik is from the Arabic word shaykh old man
Related formssheik·like, adjective
Can be confusedshake sheik (see synonym study at shake) Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for sheikh

British Dictionary definitions for sheikh



/ (ʃeɪk) /

noun (in Muslim countries)

  1. the head of an Arab tribe, village, etc
  2. a venerable old man
  3. a high priest or religious leader, esp a Sufi master

Word Origin for sheikh

C16: from Arabic shaykh old man
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 sheikh



"head of an Arab family," also "head of a Muslim religious order," 1570s, from Arabic shaykh "chief," literally "old man," from base of shakha "to grow old." Popularized by "The Sheik," novel in Arabian setting by E.M. Hull (1919), and the movie version, "The Sheikh," 1921, starring Rudolph Valentino, which gave it a 1920s sense of "strong, romantic lover."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper