One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
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.
abstainer, recluse, hermit, solitary, anchorite, anchoress, desert saint, celibate, puritan, nun, monkView synonyms
- ‘You must see these Sufi dervishes go whirl round and round in great devotion.’
- ‘His bold, expressive pictures are unmatched in the Islamic world, showing scenes of nomadic life; dancing and music-making demons, and Sufi dervishes.’
- ‘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’.
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