Thursday, October 13, 2011


TileHead’s Word of the Day for 13 October 2011

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ULEMA  (n. pl. -S)

  1. (pl. n.) the body of Muslim scholars trained in Islam and Islamic law
  2. (n.) a Muslim scholar or leader

Useful information for game players:
  • Front hooks: (none)
  • Back hooks: -S
  • Anagrams: (none)
  • Longer extensions: (none)
  • Wraparounds: (none)
  • Other Spellings: ULAMA (n.)
  • Related Forms: (none)

Passing through Turkish and Persian forms, and deriving ultimately from Arabic ulama (“wise men” or “men of knowledge”), ULEMA (or ULAMA) was originally regarded as a plural construction referring to a body of Muslim scholars, such as those who interpret and judge SHARIA law (the religious law of Islam).  Over time, it also came to refer to a single Muslim scholar or leader, leading to occasional references to ULEMAS or ULAMAS.  (Similar changes have occurred with words such as AGENDA and MEDIA: they have gradually gained singular meanings, leading to the strange looking and etymologically confusing variants AGENDAS and MEDIAS.)

MULLAH (also spelled MULLA and MOLLAH), which tends to be used more frequently in the mainstream media, is another word for “a Muslim leader or teacher.”  It also derives ultimately from an Arabic word, mawla, meaning “master” or “protector.”

This week’s theme: Words starting with the letter U

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