Nabob

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The noun nabob (pronounced 'NAY-bob', IPA: /'neɪ bɒb/) has been current in English since the early seventeenth century, during the British colonization of India. It is now frowned upon in its literal meaning, 'Governor', 'Viceroy': for this sense, use the original form nawab, which was anglicized (and mis-heard) by the early European settlers. (It is an Urdu word, nawwāb or nawāb, adopted from the Persian nawwāb, which is in turn derived from the Arabic nuwwāb, the plural of nā'ib 'deputy'.)

  • In its less literal meaning, nabob is used nowadays (and has been used since the eighteenth century) to mean someone who is rich and powerful, and exercises control, or at least influence, over government and administration, often one who likes to flaunt wealth. In historical usage, it often meant a British man who had made much money out of the British Raj.
    • Nawab (pronounced 'ner-WAHB', IPA: /nə 'wɑːb/) was first used as a title under the Mughal Empire, which preceded British rule in India. It was then used for the rulers of the 'independent' princely states of the British Raj, and developed as a title of honour for people other than these: in Mughal times, some equivalent to a British peerage, and under the Raj a Muslim of high status. Some examples of Nawabs that users of AWE may come across in British history:
      • The 8th Nawab of Pataudi (1910-1952) (Muhammad Iftikhar Ali Khan), ruler of the independent princely state of Pataudi under the Raj from 1931, went up to Balliol College, Oxford in 1927, and two years later played for the university cricket team. He played for England against Australia in 1932-3. He returned to India, but didn't play for that country till 1946, when he accepted the captaincy.
      • His son, Mansoor Ali Khan, 9th Nawab of Pataudi, followed in his footsteps, captaining India 40 times: according to the cricinfo website ([[1]]), "arguably, India's greatest captain ever.". After his father ('Pataudi Senior'), he was known as 'Pataudi Junior', and also nicknamed 'Tiger Pataudi' for the fierce way in which he snapped up the ball when fielding.
      • The Nawab of Bengal in 1756, Siraj ud-Daulah (sometimes rendered by English contemporaries 'Sir Roger Dowlah') placed over 100 European captives in a small room in the incident known as 'the Black Hole of Calcutta'.
The form Nabob may have been influenced by the slang term nob, or alternatively may have influenced it.