Definition: Sultan

From New World Encyclopedia


From French sultan, from Ottoman Turkish سلطان or sultan, from Arabic سُلْطَان or sulṭān (strength, authority, ruler). Compare Hebrew שִׁלְטוֹן or shiltón and Hebrew סוּלְטָן or sultán.


sultan (countable and uncountable, plural sultans)

  1. (historical) The holder of a secular office, formally subordinate to, but de facto the power behind the throne of, the caliph.
  2. A hereditary ruler in various Muslim states (sultanate), varying from petty principalities (as in Yemen), often vassal of a greater ruler, to independent realms, such as Oman, Brunei, Morocco (until 1956), or an empire such as the Turkish Ottoman Empire.
  3. (card games) A variant of solitaire, played with two decks of cards.
  4. A breed of chicken originating in Turkey, kept primarily in gardens for ornamental reasons.

Derived terms

  • sultana
  • sultanate


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