1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Khan

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KHAN (from the Turkī, hence Persian and Arabic Khān), a title of respect in Mahommedan countries. It is a contracted form of khāqān (khakan), a word equivalent to sovereign or emperor, used among the Mongol and Turkī–nomad hordes. The title khan was assumed by Jenghis when he became supreme ruler of the Mongols; his successors became known in Europe as the Great Khans (sometimes as the Chams, &c.) of Tatary or Cathay. Khan is still applied to semi-independent rulers, such as the khans of Russian Turkestan, or the khan of Kalat in Baluchistan, and is also used immediately after the name of rulers such as the sultan of Turkey; the meaning of the term has also extended downwards, until in Persia and Afghanistan it has become an affix to the name of any Mahommedan gentleman, like Esquire, and in India it has become a part of many Mahommedan names, especially when Pathan descent is claimed. The title of Khan Bahadur is conferred by the British government on Mahommedans and also on Parsis.