Khanum, Khanom or Khanoum, Arabic: هانم (Uzbek: Xonim, Azerbaijani: Xanım, Turkish: Hanım, Persian: خانم, Hindi: ख़ानुम, Urdu: خانم, Albanian: Hanëm, Bengali: খাঁনম, খানম, Sylheti: ꠈꠣꠘꠝ) is a female royal and aristocratic title derived through an originally Central Asian title, and was later used in the Middle East and South Asia. It is the feminine equivalent of the title Khan for a sovereign or military ruler, widely used by medieval nomadic Mongol tribes living north and northwest of modern-day China. "Khan" is also seen as a title in the Xianbei confederation for their chief between 283 and 289. The Rourans were the first people who used the titles Khagan and Khan for their emperors, replacing the Chanyu of the Xiongnu, whom Grousset and others assume to be Turkic.
In South Asia, particularly in Afghanistan, Khyber Pakhtunkwa, Sindh, Baluchistan and North India, Khanum has been adapted for use as an honorific for Muslim women of high social status.
- The Illustrated Weekly of India, Volume 90. Times of India Press. 1969. p. 4.
In the original meaning “begum” and “khanum” are the feminine equivalents or counterparts of “beg” and “khan”—like the English “lord” and “lady”.
- Henning, W. B., 'A Farewell to the Khagan of the Aq-Aqataran',"Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African studies – University of London", Vol 14, No 3, p 501–522
- Zhou 1985, p. 3–6
- René Grousset (1988). The Empire of the Steppes: A History of Central Asia now. Rutgers University Press. pp. 61, 585, n. 92. ISBN 0-8135-1304-9.