AskDefine | Define amir

Dictionary Definition

amir n : an independent ruler or chieftain (especially in Africa or Arabia) [syn: emir, emeer, ameer]

User Contributed Dictionary



(amir), commander, prince.


  1. A high title of nobility or office, used in Arabic countries and in some Turkic states.
  2. One of the Mohammedan nobility of Afghanistan and Sindh.

Alternative spellings

Extensive Definition

Emir (Arabic: ; , , (Persian/Urdu: امیر ) "commander" or "general", also "prince" ; also transliterated as amir, aamir or ameer) is a high title of nobility or office, used in Arabic nations of the Middle East and North Africa, and historically, in some Turkic states. While emir is the predominant spelling in English and many other languages, amir, closer to the original Arabic, is more common for its numerous compounds (e.g., admiral) and in individual names. Spelling thus differs depending on the sources consulted.


Amir, meaning "chieftain" or "commander", is derived from the Arabic root , "command". Originally simply meaning commander or leader, usually in reference to a group of people, it came to be used as a title of governors or rulers, usually in smaller states, and in modern Arabic usually renders the English word "prince." The word entered English in 1595, from the French émir. It was one of the titles or names of the Islamic prophet Muhammad.

Princely, ministerial and noble titles

From the start, Emir has been a military title, roughly meaning "general" or "commander."
The Western naval rank "admiral" comes from the Arabic naval title amir al-bahr, general at sea, which has been used for naval commanders and occasionally the Ministers of Marine.
In certain decimally-organized Muslim armies, Amir was an officer rank; e.g. in Mughal India Amirs commanded 1000 horsemen (divided into ten units, each under a Sipah salar), ten of them under one Malik. In the imperial army of Qajar Persia:
  • Amir-i-Nuyan, Lieutenant general
  • Amir Panj, "Commander of 5,000" (Brigadier general)
  • Amir-i-Tuman, "Commander of 10,000' (Major general)
  • Amir ul-Umara, "Amir of Amirs" (cfr. supra) or 'Commander of Commanders'
  • Amir Yavarianfar, "Supreme Amir"
In the former Kingdom of Afghanistan, Amir-i-Kabir was a title meaning "great prince" or "great commander."

Other uses

  • Amir-i-Il designates the head of an Il (tribe) in imperial Persia.
  • Amir is a Jewish name. Emir is also a common Muslim male name for Arab and non-Arab Muslims (Bosnia, Iran), taken from Arabic just as the Western name Rex ("king") is borrowed from Latin. In Bosnia and Herzegovina female-name Emira – often interpreted as "princess" – is a derivative of male-name Emir.

Islamic titles

Emirs in fiction

Sources and references

  • WorldStatesmen Here Religious Organisations - see also many present Muslim countries
amir in Arabic: أمير
amir in Belarusian: Эмір
amir in Catalan: Emir
amir in Czech: Emír
amir in Danish: Emir
amir in German: Emir
amir in Spanish: Emir
amir in Esperanto: Emiro
amir in Persian: امیر
amir in French: Émir
amir in Galician: Emir
amir in Korean: 아미르
amir in Indonesian: Emir
amir in Italian: Emiro
amir in Hebrew: אמיר
amir in Georgian: ამირა
amir in Latin: Amiralis
amir in Latvian: Emīrs
amir in Lithuanian: Emyras
amir in Hungarian: Emír
amir in Dutch: Emir
amir in Japanese: アミール
amir in Norwegian: Emir
amir in Norwegian Nynorsk: Emir
amir in Polish: Emir
amir in Portuguese: Emir
amir in Romanian: Emir
amir in Russian: Эмир
amir in Swedish: Emir
amir in Ukrainian: Емір
amir in Chinese: 埃米爾
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