Definition of sultan in US English:



  • 1A Muslim sovereign.

    • ‘Sultans rule nine of the states, and three are ruled by governors.’
    • ‘According to that legend, the sultan who built the gorgeously white Taj Mahal as a tomb for his wife constructed a black replica for himself across the river Agra.’
    • ‘For many centuries, sultans ruled Morocco from the ancient capitals of Fez and Marrakesh.’
    • ‘This conflict was resolved temporarily by the Treaty of Seeb, which granted the imam autonomous rule in the interior, while recognizing the nominal sovereignty of the sultan elsewhere.’
    • ‘Balian did in fact play a crucial role as a Crusader noble in the events surrounding the fall of Jerusalem in 1187 to the Muslim sultan Saladin.’
    • ‘Oman is a sultanate (a type of monarchy) with a sultan as the head of state and head of government.’
    • ‘For an encore he invaded India in 1398 on the pretext that the Muslim sultan of Delhi was being too tolerant of his Hindu subjects.’
    • ‘Campolo told of how St. Francis of Assisi left the Christian army during the Crusades, went to the tent of a sultan leading the Muslim army and tried to win him to Christ.’
    • ‘The architecture is inspired by a 17th century Malay sultan's palace.’
    • ‘Eventually, the Sultan and Jefri settled out of court.’
    • ‘This is a deeply moving drama in which the wise Nathan acts as a mediator between Saladin, the Muslim sultan, and Conrad, an intemperate templar knight.’
    • ‘Zanzibar received its independence from the United Kingdom on December 19, 1963, as a constitutional monarchy under the sultan.’
    • ‘For hundreds of years into the empire, the preferred language of the sultans was Persian and their courtly customs and aspirations were shaped by Iranian models.’
    • ‘Chiefs and rajas, sultans and potentates succumbed to western authority with no apparent regret on the part of their subjects.’
    • ‘For me, the central message of the book was just how little contact there was between the sultan's Muslim subjects and those of his other peoples, such as the Christians and the Jews, let alone visiting foreigners.’
    • ‘The sultan escorted the Oxford-educated prince wearing a gold crown and a kris dagger tucked into his sash to a golden chair on the dais.’
    • ‘By the end of the twelfth century, Muslim sultans had come to ascendancy in Gujarat, marking the onset of many centuries of Islamic power in the region - and the end of the glory days of the Hindu stepwell.’
    • ‘The Dutch tried to put it together and were able to keep it together through playing sultans and local princes and potentates off against one another for several centuries.’
    • ‘In the fifteen century, Islamic sultans arrived in Malay and founded the state or sultanate of Melaka (also spelled Malacca).’
    • ‘Centuries ago the Muslim sultans of Gujarat prohibited the people from drinking alcohol.’
    1. 1.1historical The sultan of Turkey.
      • ‘Now, though, the Caliph was under the thumb of a new power: the Turk who ruled in the name of the Caliph took the title of Sultan.’
      • ‘In June, the Sultan had an Assassin try to murder Prince Edward.’
      • ‘Elizabeth's dog, which had been bred in Turkey, was a gift from the sultan of that country.’
      • ‘The third disc features the film Abul the Damned, a feature length thriller set in turn of the century Turkey, with Fritz Kortner playing the sultan of Turkey.’
      • ‘He was compelled to start negotiations, make peace and suffer the humiliation of becoming vassal to the Turkish sultan.’


Mid 16th century: from French, or from medieval Latin sultanus, from Arabic sulṭān ‘power, ruler’.