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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