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A Turkish Effendi (1862)
Figurine of an effendi, circa 1770, hard-paste porcelain, height: 10.8 cm, Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York City)

Effendi or Effendy (Turkish: Efendi; originally from Greek: ? IPA: [a'fendis]; in Ottoman Turkish: ‎, romanized: efendi)is a title of nobility meaning a Lord or Master, and the title itself and its other forms are originally derived from Greek aphent?s which is derived from Ancient Greek authent?s meaning lord.[1]

It is a title of respect or courtesy, equivalent to the English Sir. It was used in the Ottoman Empire and Byzantine Empire. It follows the personal name, when it is used, and is generally given to members of the learned professions and to government officials who have high ranks, such as bey or pasha. It may also indicate a definite office, as hekim efendi, chief physician to the sultan. The possessive form efendim (my master) is used by servants, in formal discourse, when answering the telephone, and can substitute for "excuse me" in some situations (e.g. asking someone to repeat something).[2]

In the Ottoman era, the most common title affixed to a personal name after that of agha was efendi. Such a title would have indicated an "educated gentleman", hence by implication a graduate of a secular state school (rü?diye), even though at least some if not most of these efendis had once been religious students, or even religious teachers.[not verified in body]

Lucy Mary Jane Garnett wrote in the 1904 work Turkish Life in Town and Country that Ottoman Christians, women, mullahs, sheiks, and princes of the Ottoman royal family could become effendi, a title carrying "the same significance as the French Monsieur" and which was one of two "merely conventional designations as indefinite as our "Esquire" has come to be.[in the United Kingdom]".[3]

The Republican Turkish authorities abolished the title circa the 1930s.[4]


The Ottoman Turkish word , in modern Turkish efendi, is a borrowing of the Medieval Greek ? afend?s, from Ancient Greek authent?s, "master, author, doer, perpetrator" (cf. authentic).[5][6][7][8] This word was widely used as a Greek title for Byzantine nobles as late as 1465, such as in the letters of Cardinal Bessarion concerning the children of Thomas Paleologus.[9]

Other uses

  • Effendi (Egyptian Arabic pronunciation: [æ'fændi]) was also considered a title for a man of high education or social standing in an eastern (Mediterranean or Middle Eastern) country. It was an analogous to esquire, and junior to bey in Egypt during the period of the Muhammad Ali dynasty, and was used a lot among the Egyptians.[10]
  • Effendi is still used as an honorific in Egypt, Jordan, and Turkey (as well as some other former Ottoman states), and is the source of the word afandim?, Turkish: efendim, a particularly polite way of saying, "Excuse me?",[11] and can be used in answering the phone.[]
  • The colonial forces of British East Africa and German East Africa were built from a stock of Sudanese soldiers of the Egyptian army, which was nominally under the Ottoman Empire. These units entered East Africa with some officers who brought their title of effendi with them and, thus, it continued to be used for non-European officers of the two colonial forces. Up to the present the Swahili form afande is a way to address officers in the armies of Kenya, Tanzania and recently in Rwanda with the coming to power of RPF.[]
    • Effendi (Governor's Commissioned Officer) was the highest rank that a Black African could achieve in the British King's African Rifles (KAR) until 1961 (from then, promotions to commissioned officers became possible). They were equivalent to the Viceroy's Commissioned Officers in the British Indian Army. An Effendi's authority was confined to other KAR troops (Askaris), and he could not command British troops. The KAR rank came into disuse during the 1930s and was reintroduced in 1956.[12]
    • Effendi was also a non-European's officer rank in the Schutztruppe of German East Africa. Similar to the above British practice, Effendis were promoted by a governor's warrant, not by a kaiser's commission, as white commissioned officers were. Effendis had no authority over white troops. In the Schutztruppe this rank was used, together with other ranks of Ottoman origin like "Tschausch" (sergeant) and "Ombascha" (corporal).[]
  • In Bosnia and Herzegovina "Efendija" refers to Muslim clerics.[]
  • In Indonesia and Malaysia, "Effendi" can be used as a first name.[]
  • In Pakistan and India, "Effendi" is the surname of some families whose ancestors migrated from Turkey or Afghanistan.[]
  • In Afghanistan, some members of the former ruling Barakzai clan of Durranis also use "Effendi" or a variant "Affandi" as their surname.[]
  • In China, "Effendi" () often refers to Nasreddin.[]
  • Jazz pianist McCoy Tyner has one composition named "Effendi". It appears on his debut album, Inception.[13]

See also


  1. ^ El-Messiri, Sawsan (1997). Ibn Al-Balad: A Concept of Egyptian Identity. Brill Publishers. p. 5.
  2. ^  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Effendi". Encyclopædia Britannica. 9 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 9-10.
  3. ^ Garnett, Lucy Mary Jane. Turkish Life in Town and Country. G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1904. p. 5.
  4. ^ Shaw, Stanford J. and Ezel Kural Shaw. History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey (Volume II). Cambridge University Press, 27 May 1977. ISBN 0521291666, 9780521291668. p. 386.
  5. ^ . Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert; A Greek-English Lexicon at the Perseus Project.
  6. ^ "effendi". Oxford Dictionaries.
  7. ^ Harper, Douglas. "effendi". Online Etymology Dictionary.
  8. ^ Harper, Douglas. "authentic". Online Etymology Dictionary.
  9. ^ "Bessarion on the imperial hangers-on". Surprised by Time.
  10. ^ Nassau, William Senior (1882). Conversations and Journals in Egypt and Malta. 2. S. Low, Marston, Searle & Rivington.
  11. ^ Hans-Jürgen Kornrumpf (1979) Langenscheidt's Universal Dictionary, Turkish-English, English-Turkish, Langenscheidt KG, Berlin and Leipzig ISBN 978-0-88729-167-8
  12. ^ Parsons, Timothy H. (2003). The 1964 Army Mutinies And The Making Of Modern East Africa. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers. ISBN 0-325-07068-7.
  13. ^ Gelfand, A. Allmusic Review accessed February 19, 2009.


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