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[dur-vish] /ˈdɜr vɪʃ/
a member of any of various Muslim ascetic orders, as the Sufis, some of which carry on ecstatic observances, such as energetic dancing and whirling or vociferous chanting or shouting.
Origin of dervish
1575-85; < Turkish < Persian darvīsh poor man, beggar Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for dervish
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The dervish dominion was born of war, existed by war, and fell by war.

    The River War Winston S. Churchill
  • HE has got on a black gown and cap, something like the dervish.

    Roundabout Papers William Makepeace Thackeray
  • Macnooder, whirling around like a dervish on the stage top, conducted the next verse.

    The Varmint Owen Johnson
  • The dervish prevented him by beginning the conversation himself.

  • The aspect of the dervish attack was at this moment most formidable.

    The River War Winston S. Churchill
  • After this advice, the dervish threw off his cloak, and appeared as a magician.

  • When the muezzin intoned the fifth namazat, towards midnight, Mahmoud dismissed the dervish.

  • In a hundred miles or even less they would be in the dervish country.

    A Desert Drama A. Conan Doyle
  • The monthly pay of the mulazemin consists of half a dervish dollar, and, every fortnight, one-eighth of an ardeb of dhurra.

    Fire and Sword in the Sudan Rudolf C. Slatin
British Dictionary definitions for dervish


a member of any of various Muslim orders of ascetics, some of which (whirling dervishes) are noted for a frenzied, ecstatic, whirling dance
Derived Forms
dervish-like, adjective
Word Origin
C16: from Turkish: beggar, from Persian darvīsh mendicant monk
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
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Word Origin and History for dervish

1580s, from Turkish dervish, from Persian darvesh, darvish "beggar, poor," hence "religious mendicant;" equivalent of Arabic faqir (cf. fakir). The "whirling dervishes" are just one order among many. Originally dervis; modern spelling is from mid-19c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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