Baba (honorific)

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Baba (Persian and Urdu: بابا "father, grandfather, wise old man, sir";[1] Turkish: baba; Hindi and Marathi: बाबा; Assamese and Bengali: বাবা; Sylheti: ꠛꠣꠛꠣ; Punjabi: ਬਾਬਾ (Gurmukhi)) is an honorific term, of Persian origin,[2] used in several West Asian and South Asian cultures. It may be compared with the common Greek-originated European word papa, which also means "father" but is used as an honorific specially for priests and bishops (also origin of the word "pope").

It is used as a mark of respect to refer to Hindu and Sikh ascetics (sannyasis) and is used as a suffix or prefix to their names, e.g. Sai Baba, Baba Ramdevji, etc.[1][3] Baba is also a title accorded to the head of certain order of Sufi monks, as in Baba Bulleh Shah and Rehman Baba.[1] The term was also adopted in Malaysia as an honorific of respect to address Chinese people born in British Straits Settlement.[4][2]

Baba is also the familiar word for "father" in many languages (see mama and papa); in India it has even been adapted to address male children.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Platts, John T. (John Thompson). A dictionary of Urdu, classical Hindi, and English. London: W. H. Allen & Co., 1884.
  2. ^ a b c Baba in Weiner, E. S. C.; Simpson, J. R. (1989). The Oxford English dictionary. Oxford: Clarendon Press. ISBN 0-19-861186-2.
  3. ^ Hunter, William Wilson; James Sutherland Cotton; Richard Burn; William Stevenson Meyer; Great Britain India Office (1908). Imperial Gazetteer of India. 20. Clarendon Press. p. 295.
  4. ^ Ooi, Keat Gin (2004). Southeast Asia : A Historical Encyclopedia, From Angkor Wat to East Timor. Santa Barbara, Calif: ABC-CLIO. p. 198. ISBN 1-57607-770-5.