aya·​tol·​lah | \ ˌī-ə-ˈtō-lə How to pronounce ayatollah (audio) , -ˈtä- How to pronounce ayatollah (audio) , -ˈtə-, ˈī-ə-ˌtō-, -ˌtä-, -ˌtə- \

Definition of ayatollah

: a religious leader among Shiite Muslims used as a title of respect especially for one who is not an imam

Examples of ayatollah in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Taeb has been moved to an advisory role to the commander in chief of the Revolutionary Guard and not to Khamenei, which would have been more typical for one of the ayatollah’s close confidants. Ronen Bergman, BostonGlobe.com, 29 June 2022 One of the highlights of the trip is Francis’ meeting with al-Sistani, the grand ayatollah whose 2014 fatwah calling on able-bodied men to fight ISIS swelled the ranks of Shiite militias that helped defeat the group. Fox News, 3 Mar. 2021 His father Nasrollah Banisadr was an ayatollah, a high-ranking Shiite cleric, who opposed the policies of the shah’s father, Reza Shah. BostonGlobe.com, 10 Oct. 2021 In December, Louis Sako, the patriarch of Iraq's Chaldean Catholic Church told The Associated Press the church was trying to schedule a meeting between Francis and the ayatollah. Star Tribune, 3 Mar. 2021 Ellen flies around meeting world leaders, including the grand ayatollah of Iran, in an effort to prevent the detonation of nuclear devices hidden in three American cities. Sarah Lyall, New York Times, 11 Oct. 2021 With the ayatollah's blessing, Banisadr easily won the presidential election of Jan. 25, 1980. The New York Times, Arkansas Online, 10 Oct. 2021 There is speculation that Raisi, who is a cleric but not an ayatollah, may be on the road to getting fast-tracked for the top job once the supreme leader passes on. Amy Kellogg, Fox News, 26 May 2021 At one point in their 40-minute meeting, the pope gingerly cradled the ayatollah’s two hands in his own as al-Sistani leaned in speaking, according to footage aired on Lebanon’s LBC. Nicole Winfield And Qassim Abdul-zahra, chicagotribune.com, 6 Mar. 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ayatollah.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of ayatollah

1950, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for ayatollah

Persian āyatollāh, literally, sign of God, from Arabic āyatallāh, from āya sign, miracle + allāh God

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The first known use of ayatollah was in 1950

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Last Updated

4 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Ayatollah.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ayatollah. Accessed 16 Aug. 2022.

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Nglish: Translation of ayatollah for Spanish Speakers


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