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Turkish honorary title formerly given to officers of high rank, 1640s, from Turkish pasha, earlier basha, from bash "head, chief" (no clear distinction between -b- and -p- in Turkish), from Old Persian pati- "master," from PIE *poti- (see potent) + root of shah. Earlier in English as bashaw (1530s).
title of a man of high rank or office in the Ottoman Empire and North Africa. It was the highest official title of honour in the Ottoman Empire, always used with a proper name, which it followed. It was given to soldiers and high civil officials, not to men of religion, and was purely personal and not hereditary, except in 19th-century Egypt. Very occasionally in early times it was applied to a woman; Validepasha was the title of the mother of the pasha of Egypt.