ETHIOPIA

GLOSSARY

Aba (or Abba): father, title of a priest in the Ethiopian Coptic Church.
Abagaz
: governor, ruler of a district or region.
Abetahun
: Prince. A title in use for descendants in the male line of the Solomonic line.
Abeto: diminutive of the princely title of Abetahun, but used as a prefix for the untitled male descendants of princes and nobles.
Abuna: 'father', title of the supreme chief of the Ethiopian Coptic Church, the Patriarch, and of other high church dignitaries.
Afa-Negus
: 'the breath of the King', the title conferred on Imperial spokesmen, later Lord Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
Afa- Makonnen
: 'breath of the dignitary', the title of the spokesman or deputy of the Makonnen of Tigray.
Agafari
: Chief of Protocol.
Alaqa
: Commander.
Alga
: divan or couch-like throne, thus used as a reference to a governor, ruler, prince or sovereign.
Alga Worrash: 'inheritor of the throne', Heir Apparent or Crown Prince.
Amir: prince, commander. Hereditary title of the later Muslim rulers of Harrar.
Anbasa-bet
: lion-house.
Aqaba Sa'at: 'guardian of the hours', the title of the Imperial Chaplain.
Asalafi: cupbearer.
Asiraleqa: 'commander of 10'.
Ato: diminutive of the noble title of Abeto, but used as a prefix for gentlemen, now the equivalent of Mr.
Atse: 'Elect of God'.
Azzaz: Judge.
Azmatch: Commander, general.
Ba'altehat: Queen (ancient).
Bahr Negus: 'King of the Sea', the ancient title of the ruler of the maritime northern provinces, including present-day Eritrea.
Bajirond: Treasurer.
Bala Alga
: claimant to the throne, pretender.
Balabbat: noble.
Balambaras: 'Commander of the Citadel', i.e. Minister of the Court. Originally a military rank equivalent to Lieutenant-Colonel. A personal title of nobility after 1930.
Basha
: Warrant Officer.
Bejirond
: Treasurer.
Bet: house, mansion, palace.
Bitwoded: 'the beloved', a title of nobility conferred very rarely on the two principal councillors to the Emperor, the Bitwodad of the Right and the Bitwodad of the Left.
Blata
: Page.
Blattengeta: 'Master of the Pages', a senior courtier responsible for the administration of the palaces.
Dabtara
: a non celibate man learned in religion, clerk, canon.
Danzo
: the usual term of address used for the Emperor, until the reign of Sarsa Dengal.
Daq: progeny, lineage.
Dejazmatch: 'Commander of the Gate'. Originally a military rank, later replaced by Lieutenant-General. A personal title of nobility after 1930.
Dengel: the Holy Virgin.
Enderasse: 'he who represents him' (the Emperor), i.e. Viceroy.
Eraz
: 'the right hand of Christ', an office created by Sultan Sagad in 1611 as a replacement for Bitwodad, but abandoned shortly afterward.
Etchege: Lord Abbot, traditionally of Dabra Libanos.
Fetha Neghast: the Law of Kings, the fundamental law of Ethiopia
Fitawrari: 'Horn of a Rhinoceros', i.e. commander of the vanguard. Originally a military rank equivalent to Major-General. A personal title of nobility after 1930.
Gabre: servant, Gabriel.
Gara Ba'altehat: 'Queen of the Left' (ancient),  the title of the aecond most senior wife of the sovereign, and usually seated beside him on the left.
Gara Bitwoded
: 'Beloved of the Left, the title of the second most senior official in the land, later united in a single title of Ras Bitwodad.
Garad
: title of the governors of Muslim provinces, including Bali and Gan, during the Solomonic period.
Garazmatch: 'Commander of the left'. Originally a military title later replaced by Brigadier-General. A personal title of nobility after 1930.
Ge: country.
Geta: chief, master.
Getoch
: restpectful plural of gueta.
Girmawi: His Majesty.
Girmawit: Her Majesty.
Gwandari: private soldier.
Haile: strength, holy, saint.
Haymanot: faith.
Hamsaleqa: 'Commander of 50', i.e. Lieutenant.
Hasege
: 'lord of the country', a term used for the Emperor (16th century).
Hedug: deputy.
Immabet: 'mother of the house, the usual title of a married noblewoman of the high rank, later bestowed on the grand-daughters of a sovereign, in the female line.
Immabet-Hoy: 'Great Lady', a title infrequently conferred on ladies of Imperial descent and on the wives of high ranking nobles.
Ite
: 'sister', a title used for some high ranking ladies descended from the Solomonic dynasty.
Itege: 'sister of the country', the title of the Empress consort, feminine of Hasege. Probably a diminutive of Igzi-itege 'patroness of the country'.
Jan: 'elephant', used in the sense of 'great', the 'great one' or 'master', an ancient reference to the Emperor himself or people and places associated with him.
Jan Daraba: master of the eunuchs, chamberlain.
Jan Hasana: one of the twelve 'masters of the law' or judges, third in rank amongst that number.
Jan Hoy: a term of address used for the Emperor since the reign of Sarsa Dengal, sometimes translated as His Majesty.
Jan Ma'esare
: one of the twelve 'masters of the law' or judges, first in rank amongst that number.
Jan Takala
: master of the (King's) banner, later master of the Takal, one of the towers at the imperial palace at Gondar.
Janbalaw: master of the Black Guard.
Jantirar: the title borne by the head of the family holding the mountain fortress of Ambassel.
Kahin: clergy.
Kagn Baltehat 'Queen of the Right' (ancient), the title of the senior consort in the Ethiopian Royal hierarchy. Usually, but not always, held by the mother or step-mother of the Emperor.
Kagn Bitwoded
: 'Beloved of the Right', the title of the most senior official in the land, later united in a single title of Ras Bitwodad.
Kagnazmatch
: 'Commander of the right'. Originally a military rank later replaced by Brigadier-General. A personal title of nobility after 1930.
Kantiba
: Mayor (of a city).
Kebra Neghast
: the Glory of the Kings, the official history of Ethiopia.
La'eka Negus: King's Messenger.
Lebna: incense.
Le'ul: Prince, sons and grandsons of a sovereign in the male line, with the style of  His Imperial Highness.
Le'ul Dajazmatch: Prince of the Blood, usually the son or heir of a Le'ul Ras.
Le'ul Ras: Prince of the Blood with the style of His Highness.
Le'ult: Princess, daughters and grand-daughters of a sovereign in the male line and wives of of Leul, with the style of  Her Imperial Highness. Also accorded to certain granddaughters in the female line upon marriage, and upon the wives of a Leul Ras.
Lij
: 'child', the title for a male descendant of a noble of high rank.
Liqa
: chief, head.
Liqaba: Chief Chamberlain and Commander of the Palace Guards.
Liqa Makas: court dignitaries, traditionally two at any one time, who bear the imperial insignia and stand about the Emperor during battle.
Magabi
: steward.
Malik (or Melek): Arabic term for King, often used as part of the nom-de-guerre assumed by Ethiopian Emperors at their coronation.
Makonnen: dignitary.
Makwannent: dignitaries.
Mamher: abbot of a monastery.
Mashasha: shelter.
Matoaleqa
: 'commander of 100', i.e. Captain.
Meridazmatch
: traditional title of the ruler of Showa, later restored as a title for Crown Prince Asfa Wossen (later H.I.M. Emperor Amha Selassie). Also a military rank equivalent to a Colonel on the Staff.
Memhir
: Abbot.
Memire: priest.
Mesfin: prince or ruler of a large province, also used as a general description for provincial magnates of the very highest rank. Rendered as the equivalent of Duke, during the reign of Emperor Haile Selassie.
Mesfint: the term applied to more distant members of the Imperial lineage.
Mogassa
: 'she who is gracious', 'her grace'. A term used as a suffix in the reign names of Empress consorts during the Solomonic period.
Nagadras
: 'Chief of the Merchants', i.e. Minister of Trade.
Nebura Id
: 'one who is placed in office by the laying on of hands'. The title of the civil governor of the city and see of Axum, and keeper of the Book of Laws.
Negest
: Queen regnant.
Negest Negastate: Queen of Kings, i.e. Empress regnant.
Negus
: King, but in the singular form merely an honorific titles bestowed on governors of the most important provinces: Gojjam, Wollega, the seaward provinces and later Showa.
Negus Negast
: King of Kings, the title of the Emperor regnant.
Negusawi Betasab
: Imperial family.
Nibure Id: 'the laying on of hands', the title of the High Priest of Axum (originally Axum Zion).
Qala Hase: 'voice of the king', royal spokesman.
Qas: title of the provincial governors of Gurage, Hadiya, Iffat, Manz and Wag, during the 16th-17th centuries.
Ras: originally a military rank equivalent to Field Marshal. A title of nobilitay after 1930.
Ras Bitwodad: 'the beloved Prince', the highest court noble rank which combined the former separate titles of Gara Bitwodad and Qagn Bitwodad. Later also combined with, but separate from, the office of Enderasse.
Ra'asa ra'usan
: 'prince of princes', the title of the principal Ras, usually also the ruling Bitwodad at any particular time.
Raq Ma'asare: Master of Ceremonies.
Sagad: 'he to whom one bows (down)', revered, exalted. A term used as a suffix in the reign names of Emperors during the Solomonic period.
Sahafalam: 'recorder of cattle'. The title of the governors of important provinces during the Solomonic period, and known as the 'great lords': Amhara, Damot, and Showa.
Sahafi: scribe, recorder.
Sahafi Te'azzaz: 'Scribe, by Imperial Command, later translated as Minister of the Pen and Keeper of the Seal.
Sahle
: clemency.
Sasarge: one of the twelve 'masters of the law' or judges, who officiated at the coronation and anointed the Emperor.
Saifu: sword.
Selassie: Holy Trinity.
Shalaqa: 'commander of 1,000', i.e. battalion commander or Colonel.
Shambal: 'commander of 250', i.e. company commander or Major.
Sheikh: leader. The title used by the hereditary Muslim rulers of Bela Shangul, and by certain Muslim notables of Wollo, Tigray and Eritrea.
Shum (also written 'seyum'): Lord, a title used for the governors of Agame, Enariya, Sagada, Shum, Sire, Temben, etc.
Sultan
(or Seltan): ruler, prince. Hereditary title of certain Muslim rulers, including those of Ausa (the Afars) and Jimma. Also often used as part of the nom-de-guerre assumed by Ethiopian Emperors at their coronation.
Tafari: 'he who is feared'.
Takla: plant.
Tallalaq Blattengeta: 'High Master of the Pages'.
T'eqaqen Blattengeta
: 'Junior Master of the Pages'.
Tigray Makonnen: Viceroy of Tigray.
Wagshum: 'Lord of Wag', the hereditary title of the head of the former Zagwe dynasty, who ruled between 1117 and 1268 AD, entitled to a seat of honour next to the Emperor, but held no political power or influence beyond the traditional Wag fiefdom.
Walatta
: 'daughter of', a common prefix attached to female baptismal names, especially those of saints.
Woizerit: courtesy title used by unmarried ladies of high rank.
Woizerit-Hoy: courtesy title used by widowed ladies of high rank.
Woizero: courtesy title used by married women, originally applied to ladies of high rank, princesses and members of the upper nobility, now used as the equivalent of Mrs.
Worq: 'golden'
Yashalaqa: 'commander of 1,000'.
Yawest Azzaz: 'judge of the West', the title of the superintendent of the
household.
Yawest Blattengeta: 'Master of the Pages of the West', superintendent of the
household pages.
Zadik: saint.
Zawd Econa: 'Betrothed to the Crown', the original title of the designated Heir Apparent (ancient).
Zauditu: Judith.
Zefan-bet: throne-room.
 
 
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