Baba (honorific)

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Baba (Persian: بابا‎, Turkish: baba, Urdu: بابا‎, Pashto: بابا‎; Sanskrit, Hindi and Marathi: बाबा; Assamese and Bengali: বাবা; Punjabi: ਬਾਬਾ; father; grandfather; wise old man; sir,[1]) is a Persian and Turkish honorific term used in several West Asian and South Asian cultures. It is used as a mark of respect to refer to Sufi saints.[2]

The Bektashi Order, headquartered in Albania, uses the term baba for all its priesthood.[citation needed]

During Muslim rule in South Asia, it was also used for Hindu and Sikh ascetics (sannyasis) and is used as a suffix or prefix to their names e.g.: Ramdev Baba, Baba Ramdevji, etc.[1][3] Baba is also a title accorded to the head of certain order of Sufi saints: Baba Bulleh Shah and Rehman Baba.[1] The Persian term was also adopted in Malaysia as an honorific form of respect to address Chinese people born in British Straits Settlement.[4][5]

In Shona, a language spoken in Zimbabwe, and also in Yoruba, a language spoken by the Yoruba culture in the south western part of Nigeria, Baba is an honorific for father, wise man or, simply, elderly man. It is also a term of respect used by wives, other women, children and other youth to an older man.[citation needed]

Baba is also the familiar word for "father" in many languages; see mama and papa.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Platts, John T. (John Thompson). A dictionary of Urdu, classical Hindi, and English. London: W. H. Allen & Co., 1884.
  3. ^ Hunter, William Wilson; James Sutherland Cotton; Richard Burn; William Stevenson Meyer; Great Britain India Office (1908). Imperial Gazetteer of India. 20. Clarendon Press. p. 295. 
  4. ^ Ooi, Keat Gin (2004). Southeast Asia : A Historical Encyclopedia, From Angkor Wat to East Timor. Santa Barbara, Calif: ABC-CLIO. p. 198. ISBN 1-57607-770-5. 
  5. ^ Baba in Weiner, E. S. C.; Simpson, J. R. (1989). The Oxford English dictionary. Oxford: Clarendon Press. ISBN 0-19-861186-2.