Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A member of any of various Muslim ascetic orders, some of which perform whirling dances and vigorous chanting as acts of ecstatic devotion.
  • noun One that possesses abundant, often frenzied energy.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A Mohammedan monk, professing poverty, humility, and chastity; a Mohammedan fakir.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun A Turkish or Persian monk, especially one who professes extreme poverty and leads an austere life.
  • noun One of the fanatical followers of the Mahdi, in the Sudan, in the 1880's.
  • noun in modern times, a member of an ascetic Mohammedan sect notable for its devotional exercises, which include energetic chanting or shouting and rhythmic bodily movement, such as whirling, leading to a trance-like state or ecstasy. From these exercises the phrase whirling dervish is derived.
  • noun figuratively, a person who whirls or engages in frenzied activity reminiscent of the dervish{3} dancing.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A member of Dervish fraternity of Sufism, known for spinning.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun an ascetic Muslim monk; a member of an order noted for devotional exercises involving bodily movements

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Turkish derviş, mendicant, from Persian darvēš, from Middle Persian driyōš, needy one, one who lives in holy mendicancy, from Old Iranian drigu- ; akin to Sanskrit adhriguḥ (a divine epithet of unknown but favorable meaning) : perhaps a-, not + *dhrigu-, poor.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Turkish derviş, from Persian درویش (darviš).

Examples

  • Although the word dervish is itself a Perso-Arab-Turkic word, the whirling dervishes did not come into existence until the 1200s in Konya, Turkey, where Jalaluddin Rumi, a Sufi mystic who produced some of the world's most enchanting poetry and literature, came to study and teach.

    Firas Al-Atraqchi: Prince of Persia Slaughters Historical Accuracy

  • Although the word dervish is itself a Perso-Arab-Turkic word, the whirling dervishes did not come into existence until the 1200s in Konya, Turkey, where Jalaluddin Rumi, a Sufi mystic who produced some of the world's most enchanting poetry and literature, came to study and teach.

    Firas Al-Atraqchi: Prince of Persia Slaughters Historical Accuracy

  • Moses accordingly prayed and departed but returning a few days afterwards he saw that the dervish was a prisoner and surrounded by a crowd of people.

    The Gulistan of Sa'di

  • One of the men attacked by the dervish was a native non-commissioned officer.

    Khartoum Campaign, 1898 or the Re-Conquest of the Soudan

  • On discovering that the dervish was a voracious eater, he pressed -- I might say forced -- him with savage hospitality to eat largely of every dish, so that, when pipes were brought after supper, the poor dervish was more than satisfied.

    In the Track of the Troops

  • By degrees they persuaded their credulous master that the dervish was a magician, who would in time possess himself of his throne, and the sultan, alarmed, resolved to put him to death.

    The Arabian Nights Entertainments — Volume 04

  • By degrees they persuaded their credulous master that the dervish was a magician, who would in time possess himself of his throne, and the sultan, alarmed, resolved to put him to death.

    The Arabian Nights Entertainments - Complete

  • Dr Iqbal says that the life of a dervish is a very noble way of living but it is different from the life of a mendicant or friar who lives on begging or in seclusion.

    WordPress.com News

  • Before the warriors of the Mehdi made the term 'dervish' better known, it was commonly understood to signify a beggar.

    Persia Revisited

  • A dervish is a poor man, who is not bound by any vow of poverty to abstain from meat, and may relinquish his profession at will.] "Go, then," said Zobeide, "and bring them in, but make them read what is written over the gate."

    The Arabian Nights Entertainments

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