A few days ago, watchers of Internet trends noted a sudden peak in searches for the word “caliphate.” The source of interest turns out to be a reference made by Glenn Beck on his February 1st TV show. In speaking about the unfolding crisis in Egypt, Beck offered his view that a result could be “a Muslim caliphate that controls the Mideast and parts of Europe.”

Dictionary.com exists to help you learn about words. Our mission is to make sure you have the right word at the right time and we have no interest in the merits of any opinion. Whether you agree with Glenn Beck or not, the purpose here is to provide accurate meaning of an old and out-of-use word. While Egypt captivates world media, here’s a bit of background on the word caliphate.

The definition of caliphate is “government under a caliph.” A caliph is a spiritual leader of Islam who claims succession from Muhammad. The word stems from the Arabic khalifa meaning “successor.”

Historically, caliphates are governance under Islamic law, which calls for election of leadership under Sunni practice and selection from a group of imams in the Shia tradition. The rule of law by Islamic ethics is a common thread to the governance under of a caliphate. Caliphate rule was largely symbolic, the power of local sultans and rulers handling the day-to-day operations of government.

The Ottomans, rulers of an empire centered in what is now Turkey, used the symbolism of the caliph to expand their rule in Arab countries, but it wasn’t until the late 18th century that the role of the caliph referred to political rather than spiritual leadership. When the Ottoman Empire came to an end with the establishment of the Turkish Republic in 1923, it was the end of the caliphate.

We’ve written about a number of words associated with Islam in order to help shed light during controversies. Read about the literal meanings of mosque, temple, and church, here. And you can get some background on Ramadan, here.

Are there other words in the news you would like us to tackle? Let us know, below.

California’s Web Site Overwhelmed by Visitors Downloading Tax Forms.

Daily News (Los Angeles, CA) April 16, 2003 Byline: Rachel Uranga Apr. 16–Last-minute tax filers trying to download California tax forms overwhelmed the state’s Web site Tuesday, blocking access for hours as procrastinators facing a midnight deadline fumed.

Despite the online shutdowns, the state won’t be waiving any penalties for those who owe tax and file late.

“There is no ‘my dog ate my tax return, I couldn’t download the form,”‘ said Denise Azimi, spokeswoman for the California Franchise Tax Board.

Forms were available at regional tax offices as well as print shops and some libraries, she said. Those awaiting refunds would not face penalties, she said. see here california tax forms

On Monday the site had 2.7 million visitors, with 2.2 million of them downloading forms without a glitch. That’s more than double the amount of visitors during the same time last year.

Tuesday, the Web site hit its capacity.

“Today is knocking our socks off,” Azimi said, unable to give an estimate of how many Californians used the site but noting that an estimated 5 million taxpayers had yet to file by Tuesday.

Missing the filing deadline can result in penalties ranging from 5 percent to 25 percent of your tax liability, tax experts said.

Victor Omelczenko, a spokesman for the Internal Revenue Service in Los Angeles, said the IRS did not face similar problems.

Anxious taxpayers wandered into the Van Nuys branch of the Los Angeles Public Library on Tuesday hoping to download California’s standard tax form along with a slew of other forms from the stalled site, said senior librarian Lupe Canales.

“It had been working fine for the past two weeks and then it went out,” Canales said. this web site california tax forms

Explaining the situation to a few of the patrons, Canales said some became frustrated.

“We gave them the Web site so they could try later,” she said. “I am sorry to say that some don’t have computers so I don’t know what they are going to do.” The “e-services” address, through which Californians can pay taxes online, operated without problems Tuesday, Azima said. Only downloading tax forms gave online users difficulty, she said.

“We will be looking at this, why we have this bubble and what we can do,” Azimi said.

Already, the board has doubled its traffic capacity.

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  1. Carl -  February 8, 2011 - 11:07 pm

    Funny that truthseeker calls themself “truthseeker”, and discusses faith-based beliefs as if they were truths.

    We won’t know of those truths until Christ returns 11 years ago. Errr, 10 years ago. Errr, uhhh…

    I don’t mean to bash his faith because it’s a good thing. Believe your beliefs, be faithful to your faith, but don’t call it truth until God himself (via his voice, not King James’) tells you so.

  2. gamma -  February 7, 2011 - 9:59 pm

    Just ask Bill Kristol how crazy Glenn Beck is. Finally, a conservative is stepping up to the plate to debunk the the looney toon.

  3. Elizabeth Munroz -  February 5, 2011 - 1:28 pm

    I love this site!

    Not only do I learn vocabulary, but see the freedom of speech at work while people discuss one word backed by history, politics, religion, sociology, and the personal opinion.

    I love this site!

  4. Meaghetti and Spatballs -  February 5, 2011 - 12:45 pm

    P.S. if you’re looking for a proofreader, I’m looking for a job.

  5. Meaghetti and Spatballs -  February 5, 2011 - 12:44 pm

    And I’m sick of a site supposedly devoted to clarifying the meaning of words constantly misusing them. Fourth paragraph, two mistakes: “Historically, caliphates are governance under Islamic law…” is wrong, maybe it should read “are governed under”? Later in the same paragraph, “The rule of law by Islamic ethics is a common thread to the governance under of a caliphate” is also wrong. “…to governance under a caliphate…” or “in governments of caliphates” would be easier to understand.

    @Queen Sardonic if they meant to then why didn’t they? I thought they were supposed to know how to use words.

    I don’t mean to be harsh or overly critical, but grammatical mistakes on a website about words is unacceptable, notwithstanding that grammar has effectively been flushed down the toilet on the internet.
    Who is your proofreader? Please don’t tell me you use an automated spelling and grammar checker. That doesn’t cut the mustard.

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