Definition of dervish in English:



  • A member of a Muslim (specifically Sufi) religious order who has taken vows of poverty and austerity. Dervishes first appeared in the 12th century; they were noted for their wild or ecstatic rituals and were known as dancing, whirling, or howling dervishes according to the practice of their order.

    • ‘His bold, expressive pictures are unmatched in the Islamic world, showing scenes of nomadic life; dancing and music-making demons, and Sufi dervishes.’
    • ‘You must see these Sufi dervishes go whirl round and round in great devotion.’
    • ‘Mystic orders and dervishes played an important role in their lives and dervish lodges provided food and shelter along the trade routes.’
    • ‘In medieval Islam, many dervishes became members of mystical or Sufi brotherhoods, which grew up all over the Islamic world from the 12th century onwards.’
    • ‘While Pakistan beckoned us with its antique wooden chests, Turkey had me mesmerised with its flying dervishes.’


From Turkish derviş, from Persian darvīš poor, (as a noun) religious mendicant.