title of the kings of Iran, or Persia. When compounded as shahanshah, it denotes "king of kings," or emperor, a title adopted by the 20th-century Pahlavi dynasty in evocation of the ancient Persian "king of kings," Cyrus II the Great (reigned 559-c. 529 BC). Another related title or form of address is padshah, or "lord king." The title shah was also used in Afghanistan until the overturn of the monarchy in 1973 and has been used by rulers and princelings in other countries of central and southern Asia. Sometimes, as a part of a name, shah was used by hereditary governors and heads of Sufi orders. The son of a shah is called a shahzada (literally "shah son"). See also shabunder.
Learn more about shah with a free trial on Britannica.com.