From Urdu بیگم and Hindi बेगम (begam, “lady”), from East Turkic begüm, from Beg (a provincial governor under the Ottoman Empire, a bey) + -um (feminine suffix for titles of nobility). Compare with خانم (hanım).
begum (plural begums)
- a high-ranking Muslim woman, especially in India and Pakistan
1872, James De Mille, The Cryptogram, HTML edition, The Gutenberg Project, published 2009:
- She was the daughter of an English officer, who having fallen in love with an Indian Begum gave up home, country, and friends, and married her.
- 2012, The Economist, Bangladesh: Out of the basket
- toxic politics dominated by the bitter infighting of the “battling begums” (the widow and daughter of former presidents, who lead the two main parties).
- the form of address for such a woman