der·​vish ˈdər-vish How to pronounce dervish (audio)
: a member of a Muslim religious order noted for devotional exercises (such as bodily movements leading to a trance)
: one that whirls or dances with or as if with the abandonment of a dervish

Examples of dervish in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Coltrane’s version, by contrast, is a hypnotic, nearly 14-minute-long whirling dervish of a thing, vamping an E minor into E major again and again and again, chanting and droning, propelled by Tyner’s insistent, percussive left hand on the keys. Jeff MacGregor, Smithsonian Magazine, 5 Jan. 2024 This melancholy dervish finds in music a sustained ecstasy that eludes him in life, although at certain splendid instants those separate worlds collide. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, 17 Dec. 2023 Proof, evidence, testimony In the small city of Gjakova, known for its dervishes of Islam’s mystical Sufi order, sits Kosovo’s most famous private museum: the Qerkezi house, a neat, two-story home adorned with a red-and-black Albanian flag. Nina Strochlic, Washington Post, 29 Dec. 2023 When conducting, Bernstein was a whirling dervish of flailing arms and flashing teeth. A.d. Amorosi, SPIN, 20 Dec. 2023 End the day with a Sufi whirling dervishes show in the open-air courtyard of the Wekalet El Ghouri Arts Centre. Nada El Sawy, Condé Nast Traveler, 21 Nov. 2023 Pellucid shots, each a couple of football fields big, whoosh over skyscrapers, elephant herds, and whirling dervishes. Jackson Arn, The New Yorker, 13 Nov. 2023 Eminem is a mischievous, whirling dervish, wrestling real and imagined demons side by side. Bob Guccione Jr, Spin, 21 Aug. 2023 Players bark constantly off the ball, scrambling in a dervish around high-profile players such as Joel Embiid and James Harden. Julia Poe, Chicago Tribune, 22 Mar. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'dervish.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Turkish derviş, literally, beggar, from Persian darvīsh

First Known Use

1585, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of dervish was in 1585

Dictionary Entries Near dervish

Cite this Entry

“Dervish.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


der·​vish ˈdər-vish How to pronounce dervish (audio)
: a member of a Muslim religious group noted for its customs (as bodily movements leading to a trance)

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