- a member of any of various Muslim ascetic orders, as the Sufis, some of which carry on ecstatic observances, such as energetic dancing and whirling or vociferous chanting or shouting.
- a member of any of various Muslim orders of ascetics, some of which (whirling dervishes) are noted for a frenzied, ecstatic, whirling dance
1580s, from Turkish dervish, from Persian darvesh, darvish “beggar, poor,” hence “religious mendicant;” equivalent of Arabic faqir (cf. fakir). The “whirling dervishes” are just one order among many. Originally dervis; modern spelling is from mid-19c.