[soo n-ee]
noun Islam.
  1. Also called Sunnite. a member of one of the two great religious divisions of Islam, regarding the first four caliphs as legitimate successors of Muhammad and stressing the importance of Sunna as a basis for law.Compare Shiʿite.
  2. (used with a plural verb) the Sunni Muslims.

Origin of Sunni

1620–30; < Arabic sunnī, derivative of sunnah Sunna
Related formsSun·nism, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for sunni


  1. one of the two main branches of orthodox Islam (the other being the Shiah), consisting of those who acknowledge the authority of the Sunna
  2. plural -nis or -ni another term for Sunnite
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 sunni


1620s, from Arabic, literally "lawful," from Sunna "traditional teachings of Muhammad," literally "way, custom, course, tradition." Muslims who accept the orthodox tradition as well as the Quran.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper