Asia & Middle East

 

PERSONAL TITLES AND STYLES OF ASIA AND THE MIDDLE EAST

 

Baig / Beg / Beyg

A Mughal title that was derived from the Ottoman title “bey”.

 

Bey

An informal honorific which originated as an Ottoman title used by minor chieftains.

 

Bibi

Used in the Indian Subcontinent. Meaning and usage is similar to “miss”. Often misunderstood to be a surname by the press.

e.g. Aasiya Bibi.

 

Celvan / செல்வன்

Tamil honorific applied to unmarried men.  Roughly equivalent to “Master”.

 

Celvi / செல்வி

Tamil honorific applied to unmarried women.  Roughly equivalent to “Miss”.

 

Chhatrapati / Kshetrapati

Indian title roughly equivalent to “emperor”.

 

Effendi  (spoken style: Effendim)

Ottoman title of nobility turned honorific.  Means “lord” or “master” as a title of nobility and is roughly equivalent to the English “sir” when used as an honorific.

 

Jam / Ja’am

Feudal title found primarily in Sindh, Pakistan and Balochistan, Pakistan. There is no established custom for its usage and it is often used with other titles such as Nawab and Khan.

 

Maskil (pl. Maskilim)

Jewish honorific meaning “scholar” or “enlightened man”.  Used by Isaac Israeli the Younger in the fourteenth century.

 

Mian

Title of nobility, used in various places in the Indian Subcontinent, but mainly in Punjab.  Precedes name and is inherited by all sons.

E.g. Mian Yawar Zaman.

 

Mor

1.)  Syriac title of respect meaning “my lord”.  Given to all bishops and saints.  E.g. Mor Jacob of Edessa.

2.) Derived from Gaelic “Mór”, meaning “great”.  E.g. The O’Neill Mor.

 

Moulvi / Maulvi / Mawlawi / Mawlvi

Islamic honorific originating in the Arabic for “master” or “lord”.  Generally used for highly qualified Sunni scholars.

 

Shah

Persian title roughly equivalent to “king”.

 

Shahbanu / Shabanu

Persian title roughly equivalent to “empress”.

 

Shahenshah / Shahanshah

Persian title literally meaning “king of kings”.  Roughly equivalent to “emperor”.

 

Sheikh / Sheik / Shayk / Shaykh / Cheik / Cheikh (f. Sheikha / Shayka / Shaykha / Cheika / Cheikha)

An Arab title literally meaning “elder” but now used to mean “chief”, “leader” or “governor”.  Primarily used by chiefs, royals and Islamic scholars.  Adopted by Indian Subcontinental high caste converts to Islam.

E.g. Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor (verbally addressed as “Sheikh Muszaphar”).

 

Swami / Suami / Svami  (f. Swamini / Svamini) (abr. Sw.)

A Sanskrit title meaning “master”, “lord” or “prince”.  Applied to ascetics who have been initiated into a dharmic religious order.  The title can also mean “husband” in Bengali and Malay.

 

Thiru / திரு

Tamil honorific applied to men, generally married men.  Unmarried men use “Celvan”.

 

Zamindar / Zemindar

An Indian title derived from Persian terms. Some Zamindars were considered to be equivalent to European lords or barons, but others were considered equivalent to sovereign princes as they were independent rulers. In Bengali it referred to hereditary tax collectors. The British made them landowners and thus created a landed aristocracy.