ayatollah

ayatollah

[ah-yuh-toh-luh]
noun
(among Shiʿites) a title in the religious hierarchy achieved by scholars who have demonstrated highly advanced knowledge of Islamic law and religion.

Origin:
1975–80; < Persian < Arabic āyat allāh sign of God; cf. Allah

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World English Dictionary
ayatollah (ˌaɪəˈtɒlə)
 
n
one of a class of Iranian Shiite religious leaders
 
[via Persian from Arabic, from aya sign + Allah god]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

ayatollah
honorific title for an Iranian Shiite religious leader, 1950, from Pers., from Arabic ayatu-llah, lit. "miraculous sign of God."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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