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 Iran's ayatollahs have blamed America for their country's ills since taking power 40 years ago. Nic Robertson, CNN, "'Maximum pressure' on Iran amid coronavirus could backfire for Trump," 8 Apr. 2020 The Sultan also charted an independent foreign policy: fond of Britain, willing to host Israeli prime ministers, but also happy to meet Iranian ayatollahs and Chinese businessmen. The Economist, "What comes after Qaboos? The new sultan of Oman hopes to lead as well as the last one," 16 Jan. 2020 Amid these setbacks, the question of legitimacy has loomed larger than ever for Iran’s beleaguered ayatollahs. Ilan Berman, National Review, "In Iran, an Electoral Flop," 26 Feb. 2020 Apparently, Iran’s ayatollahs are now unable to tolerate even a semblance of pluralism within the country’s secular institutions. Ilan Berman, National Review, "In Iran, an Electoral Flop," 26 Feb. 2020 The ayatollah sent a message back to the group, ordering the government to prepare a public statement acknowledging what had happened. Farnaz Fassihi, BostonGlobe.com, "Anatomy of a lie: How Iran covered up the downing of an airliner," 26 Jan. 2020 After last week’s drone strike that killed Iran’s chief terrorist, the ayatollahs were making nearly hysterical threats of revenge. Paul Bedard, Washington Examiner, "Weekly Trump Report Card: ‘Dizzying,’ with wins on border wall and deregulation," 11 Jan. 2020 Soleimani was the mastermind of Iran's revolutionary goals and projection of military power all aimed at keeping the ayatollahs in power at home. CNN, "The US spent trillions trying to remake the Middle East. Trump's strike may have undone it all," 6 Jan. 2020 The ayatollah, according to the communications, had asked General Suleimani to come to Tehran for further discussions at least a week before his death. New York Times, "As Tensions With Iran Escalated, Trump Opted for Most Extreme Measure," 4 Jan. 2020

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.

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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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Cite this Entry

“Ayatollah.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ayatollah. Accessed 3 Jul. 2020.

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Nglish: Translation of ayatollah for Spanish Speakers

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