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[bey] /beɪ/
noun, plural beys.
a provincial governor in the Ottoman Empire.
(formerly) a title of respect for Turkish dignitaries.
(formerly) the title of the native ruler of Tunis or Tunisia.
Turkish beg.
1590-1600; < Turkish, by-form of earlier beg, Old Turkic beg subordinate chief, head of a clan, perhaps < a MChin word akin to Chinese bǎi hundred (Guangdong dial. baak) Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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British Dictionary definitions for bey


(in the Ottoman Empire) a title given to senior officers, provincial governors, certain other officials or nobles, and (sometimes) Europeans
(in modern Turkey) a title of address, corresponding to Mr
Also called beg
Word Origin
C16: Turkish: lord
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for bey

"governor of a Turkish district," 1590s, from Turkish bey, a title of honor, the Osmanli equivalent of Turkish beg.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Article for bey

title among Turkish peoples traditionally given to rulers of small tribal groups, to members of ruling families, and to important officials. Under the Ottoman Empire a bey was the governor of a province, distinguished by his own flag (sancak, liwa). In Tunis after 1705 the title become hereditary for the country's sovereign. Later "bey" became a general title of respect in Turkish and Arab countries, added after a personal name and equivalent to "esquire" (or "sir" in conversation) in English. In the 20th-century Turkish republic, bey, though surviving in polite conversation, was replaced by bay before the name (equivalent to "Mr.").

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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