the sovereign of an Islamic country.
(often initial capital letter) any of the former sovereigns of Turkey.
any absolute ruler or despot.

1545–55; < Middle French < Turkish < Arabic sulṭān sovereign

sultanic [suhl-tan-ik] , adjective
sultanlike, adjective
sultanship, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
sultan (ˈsʌltən)
1.  the sovereign of a Muslim country, esp of the former Ottoman Empire
2.  an arbitrary ruler; despot
3.  a small domestic fowl with a white crest and heavily feathered legs and feet: originated in Turkey
[C16: from Medieval Latin sultānus, from Arabic sultān rule, from Aramaic salita to rule]

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

1555, from M.Fr. sultan "ruler of Turkey" (16c.), from Arabic sultan "ruler, king, queen, power, dominion," from Aramaic shultana "power," from shelet "have power." His wife, mother, daughter, concubine, or sister is a sultana (1585), from It. fem. of sultano, from Arabic sultan.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Britannica


originally, according to the Qur'an, moral or spiritual authority; the term later came to denote political or governmental power and from the 11th century was used as a title by Muslim sovereigns. Mahmud of Ghazna (reigned AD 998-1030) was the first Muslim ruler to be called sultan by his contemporaries, and under the Seljuqs of Anatolia and Iran it became a regular title. Thereafter it was frequently conferred on sovereigns by the caliph (titular head of the Muslim community) and came to be used throughout the Islamic world.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
One lie in the sultan's head will keep out twenty truths.
The state of emergency places few limits on the sultan's power.
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