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Bey

The meaning of «bey»

"Bey" (Ottoman Turkish: بك‎ “Beik”, Chagatay: بك “Bek”, Turkmen: beg, Uzbek: bek, Kazakh: бек, Tatar: bäk, Albanian: beu/bej, Bosnian: beg, Persian: بیگ‎ “Beigh” or بگ “Beg”, Tajik: бе, Arabic: بك‎ “Bek”) is a Turkic title for a chieftain, and an honorific, traditionally applied to people with special lineages to the leaders or rulers of variously sized areas in the numerous Turkic kingdoms, emirates, sultanates and empires in Central Asia, South Asia, and The Middle East, such as the Ottomans, Timurids or the various khanates and emirates in Central Asia and the Eurasian Steppe. The feminine equivalent title was begum. The regions or provinces where "beys" ruled or which they administered were called beylik, roughly meaning "governorate" and/or " region (the equivalent of county in other parts of Europe). However the exact scope of power handed to the beks varied with each country, thus there was no clear-cut system, rigidly applied to all countries defining all the possible power and prestige that came along with the title.

Today, the word is still used formally as a social title for men, similar to the way the titles "sir" and "mister" are used in the English language. Additionally, it is widely used in the naming customs of Central Asia, namely in countries such as Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Notably, the ethnic designation of Uzbeks comes from the name of Öz Beg Khan of the Golden Horde, being an example of the usage of this word in personal names and even names of whole ethnic groups. The general rule is that the honorific is used with first names and not with surnames or last names.

The word entered English from Turkish bey,[1] itself derived from Old Turkic beg,[2] which – in the form bäg – has been mentioned as early as in the Orkhon inscriptions (8th century AD) and is usually translated as "tribal leader".[3][4] The actual origin of the word is still disputed, though it is mostly agreed that it was a loan-word,[3] in Old Turkic.[5] This Turkic word is usually considered a borrowing from an Iranian language.[6][4] However, German Turkologist Gerhard Doerfer assessed the derivation from Iranian as superficially attractive but quite uncertain,[4] and pointed out the possibility that the word may be genuinely Turkic.[3] Two principal etymologies have been proposed by scholars:

What is certain is that the word has no connections to Turkish berk, "strong" (Mongolian berke), or Turkish bögü, "shaman" (Mong. böge).[3]

The first three rulers of the Ottoman realm were titled Bey. The chief sovereign of the Ottoman Empire came to be called sultan starting in 1383 when Murad I was granted this title by the shadow caliph in Cairo.[citation needed]

The Ottoman state had started out as one of a dozen Turkish Ghazi Beyliks, roughly comparable to western European duchies, into which Anatolia (i.e., Asian Turkey, or Asia Minor) had been divided after the break-up of the Seljuk Sultanate of Ikonion (Konya) and the military demise of the Byzantine Empire. Its capital was Bursa. By 1336, it had annexed the Beylik of Karasy, its western neighbour on the coast of the Sea of Marmara, and it began to expand quite rapidly thereafter.[citation needed]

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