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Baig, also commonly spelled Bayg, Beigh, Beg, Bek, Bey, Baeg or Begh was a Turkic title which is today used as a name to identify lineage. It means Chief or Commander and is an honorific title. It is common in Caucasus, Central Asia, South Asia and Southeast Europe and among their respective diaspora.


The origin of beg is still disputed, though it is mostly agreed that it is a Turkic loan-word. Two principal etymologies have been proposed. The first etymology is from a Middle Iranian form of Old Iranian baga; though the meaning would fit since the Middle Persian forms of the word often mean "lord", used for the king or others. The second etymology is from Chinese po "eldest (brother), (feudal) lord". Gerhard Doerfer seriously considers the possibility that the word is genuinely Turkic. Whatever the truth may be, there is no connection with Turkish berk, Mongolian berke "strong" or Turkic bögü, Mongolian böge "wizard, "shaman".[1][2]

It was also used by the Uyghurs, it permitted the Turkic Begs in the Altishahr region to maintain their previous status, and they administered the area for the Qing as officials.[3][4][5][6] High-ranking Begs were allowed to call themselves Begs.[7]

Use as a name[edit]

For the Persian use, it is common to see the name Beg added to the Persian suffix of 'zada' (male), 'zadi' (female), which means 'son of' or 'daughter of'. For Example: Sohaib Begzada or Hira Begzadi.[citation needed] For the Turkish use, it is most common to see the spelling Beg or Bey utilized. (Sometimes, it is used along with the title "Mirza", similar to the Mughal usage).[citation needed].

For the Mughal and Timurid dynasty use, the honorific title Mirza (Persian: مرزا) was added before the given name for all the males and 'Baig' (Persian: بیگ) for the males or Begum (Persian: بگوم) for the females, was added as a family name. For example: Mirza Sohaib Baig or Hira Begum. This was the historical naming convention for the descendants of the Mughal and Timurid dynasties, Today, however, it is common to see descendants of the Mughals and Timurids use Baig as a middle name and Mirza as the surname or vice versa. For example: Abdullah Baig Mirza or Abdullah Mirza Baig.

For the Slavic or Bosniak use, it is common to see the name Beg added to the Slavic suffix of 'ović', 'ovich', which roughly means 'descendant of'. While the title "Beg" is not in use in Bosnia anymore, track of families of "Beg" descent is kept. But a surname containing "-begović" suffix in itself is not a clear indicator of descent. For example, there is a number of "Begović" families, some are of noble descent, some not. "Idrizbegović" would be another example of a non-noble family with the suffix. Some examples of "beg" families are: Šahbegović, Rizvanbegović, Šačirbegović. On the other hand, "Kukavica" is an example of a famous "beg" family, not containing the title in itself. The book by Enver Imamović "Porijeklo i pripadnost stanovništva Bosne i Hercegovine" details the origin of a big number of families in Bosnia and Herzegovina.[citation needed]

There are various other alternative spellings used today as well, such as: Begh, Begg, Beigh, Beyg, Bayg, Bek, Bik.

Notable Beighs/Begs/Beghs/Beys/Baigs[edit]






Central Asia







Sri Lanka


United Kingdom

United States

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Same surname beg, baig, bey / surname in part of Mirza and Ottoman Empire in Name Osman I



  1. ^ "Welcome to Encyclopaedia Iranica".
  2. ^ "Welcome to Encyclopaedia Iranica".
  3. ^ Rudelson, Justin Jon; Rudelson, Justin Ben-Adam (1997). Oasis Identities: Uyghur Nationalism Along China's Silk Road (illustrated ed.). Columbia University Press. p. 31. ISBN 0231107862. Retrieved 24 April 2014.
  4. ^ Clarke, Michael E. (2011). Xinjiang and China's Rise in Central Asia – A History. Taylor & Francis. p. 20. ISBN 978-1136827068. Retrieved 10 March 2014.
  5. ^ Millward, James A. (2007). Eurasian Crossroads: A History of Xinjiang (illustrated ed.). Columbia University Press. p. 101. ISBN 978-0231139243. Retrieved 10 March 2014.
  6. ^ Crossley, Pamela Kyle; Siu, Helen F.; Sutton, Donald S., eds. (2006). Empire at the Margins: Culture, Ethnicity, and Frontier in Early Modern China. Studies on China. Vol. 28 (illustrated ed.). University of California Press. p. 121. ISBN 0520230159. Retrieved 10 March 2014.
  7. ^ James A. Millward (1998). Beyond the pass: economy, ethnicity, and empire in Qing Central Asia, 1759-1864. Stanford University Press. p. 204. ISBN 0-8047-2933-6. Retrieved 2010-11-28.


  •  This article incorporates text from Life among the Chinese: with characteristic sketches and incidents of missionary operations and prospects in China, by Robert Samuel Maclay, a publication from 1861, now in the public domain in the United States.