noun Islam.
(used with a plural verb) the Shiʿites.
(used with a singular verb) Shiʿite.
Also, Shiʿa.

1620–30; < Arabic shīʿah literally, sect Unabridged


noun Islam.
a member of one of the two great religious divisions of Islam that regards Ali, the son-in-law of Muhammad, as the legitimate successor of Muhammad, and disregards the three caliphs who succeeded him.
Also, Shiite, Shiʿa, Shiʿah, Shiʿi [shee-ee, shee-ee] .
Compare Sunni ( def 1 ).

Shiʿah + -ite1

Shiʿism [shee-iz-uhm] , noun
Shiʿitic [shee-it-ik] , adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
Shiah or Shia (ˈʃiːə)
1.  one of the two main branches of Islam (the other being the Sunni), making up a tenth or more of the entire Muslim population, and forming the majority in Iran and Iraq, which regards Mohammed's cousin Ali and his successors as the true imams
2.  another name for Shiite
3.  designating or characteristic of this sect or its beliefs and practices
[C17: from Arabic shī`ah sect, from shā`a to follow]
Shia or Shia
[C17: from Arabic shī`ah sect, from shā`a to follow]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

1626, a collective name for one of the two great Muslim sects (see Shiite). This is the proper use, but it commonly is used to mean "a Shiite." In Arabic, shi'ah is the name of the sect, shiya'iy is a member of the sect.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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