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For the name, see Begum (name).

Begum, Begam, Baigum or Beygum (Turkish: Begüm, Persian: بیگم, Urdu: بیگم‎) is the feminine form of the title Beg (or Bey), which in Turkic languages means "higher official".[citation needed] It refers to the wife or daughter of a Beg. The related form Begzadi (daughter of Beg) also occurs.[1]

In South Asia, Begum has been adapted for use as an honorific address and title given to Muslim women of rank. Traditionally it was conferred upon women of royal or aristocratic rank, and was often used in the same ways as the title, "Queen".[citation needed]

Starting in the 18th century, it was applied more generally to women who held high social status, but no formal aristocratic rank.[where?][citation needed] Some examples are: Zaynab Begum; Begum Hazrat Mahal (who later divorced Nawab Wajid Ali Shah); Mughal Princesses Jahanara Begum and Roshanara Begum; Begum Inaara Aga Khan, Begum Nusrat Bhutto, and Begum Khaleda Zia.

Colloquially, the term is also used in Pakistan and Bangladesh by Muslim men to refer to their own wives or as an honorific address to a married or widowed woman.[when?][citation needed]

The term became well known in the West, especially in the French-speaking world, due to Jules Verne's 1879 novel The Begum's Millions (in French, Les Cinq cents millions de la Begum).

The term had earlier become known in Great Britain during the impeachment and Parliamentary trial of Warren Hastings, former Governor-General of India, which lasted from 1787 until 1795. One of the major charges against Hastings was that he had unjustly confiscated land belonging to the "Begums of Oudh" (the mother and grandmother of Asaf-Ud-Dowlah, Nawab of Oudh).[citation needed]

Begumpet is one of the major commercial and residential suburbs of the city of Hyderabad, India. Begumpet stands on land given by the sixth Nizam of Hyderabad to his daughter as her wedding present when she married a Paigah noble.[citation needed]

Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, a suburb of Toronto, is referred as Begumpura ("Ladies' Town") by members of the Pakistani community of Toronto. Mississauga has a large Pakistani immigrant community and many husbands work in the Persian Gulf and Saudi Arabia while their wives and children live in Mississauga.[2] Begum is mostly used in the Mirza family. [3][clarification needed][self-published source]

See also[edit]