From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:

Caliph \Ca"liph\ (k[=a]"l[i^]f), n. [OE. caliphe, califfe, F.
   calife (cf. Sp. califa), fr. Ar. khal[imac]fan successor, fr.
   khalafa to succed (i. e. a successor of Mohammed).]
   Successor or vicar; the civil and religious leader of a
   Muslim state; -- a title of the successors of Mohammed both
   as temporal and spiritual rulers, used formerly by the
   sultans of Turkey. [Written also calif, kaliph, kalif,
   [1913 Webster]
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