Definition of emir in English:


(also amir)


  • 1A title of various Muslim (mainly Arab) rulers.

    ‘the emir of Kuwait’
    • ‘The government, which is headed by the emir, is composed of ministers appointed by him, many of whom are drawn from the extended royal family and educated in the West.’
    • ‘The amir of Kuwait is not claiming to be a caliph!’
    • ‘The emir must sanction laws passed by parliament, and parliament must approve government ministers appointed by the emir.’
    • ‘They selected various people and called them kings, emirs and sheikhs.’
    • ‘In 1999, the emir of Kuwait dissolved parliament and, along with a variety of other liberalizing measures, sought to grant women the right to vote by decree.’
    • ‘A few weeks ago he sought to persuade the emir of Qatar to close it down, without success.’
    • ‘People are not happy with what is going on, but they are keeping quiet as a sign of respect to the emir and his crown prince.’
    ruler, sovereign, lord, overlord, dynast, leader, monarch, crowned head
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1historical A Muslim (usually Arab) military commander or local chief.
      • ‘His family had been inducted into Mughal hierarchy as amirs (nobles).’
      • ‘This evocative film brings to life a time when emirs and caliphs dominated Spain and Sicily and Islamic scholarship swept into the major cities of Europe.’
      • ‘From 1092 the major concern of the Sultan of Baghdad was the exhaustion of the treasury brought about by the constant ‘buying off’ of emirs during the civil wars.’
      • ‘Akbar recalls the protection afforded religious minorities by medieval Muslim emirs and then details the savagery visited on ‘Saracens’ and heretics in Christian states of the Middle Ages.’
      • ‘And there was absolutely strict obedience to the amir - or commander - of the overall operations.’
      • ‘A hundred Mameluks under the command of an emir entered the castle to oversee the transfer.’
      • ‘Crusader princes, atabeqs, emirs and even Saladin himself had been forced to come to terms with them or suffer the consequences.’
      • ‘Not all the Muslims were so generous, and other Christians were tricked and blackmailed by various emirs, but Saladin's behavior was recognized by both the Muslim and Christian world as an act of great generosity.’
      • ‘To this end emir after emir expanded and embellished the great mosque.’
      • ‘The Arab emirs governing Sicily imported texts from Baghdad and had a rich library there.’


Late 16th century (denoting a male descendant of Muhammad): from French émir, from Arabic 'amīr (see amir).