NABÓB, s. Port. Nabâbo, and Fr. Nabab, from Hind. Nawab, which is the Ar. pl. of sing. Nayab (see NAIB), ‘a deputy,’ and was applied in a singular sense1 to a delegate of the supreme chief, viz. to a Viceroy or chief Governor under the Great Mogul, e.g. the Nawab of Surat, the Nawab of Oudh, the Nawab of Arcot, the Nawab Nazim of Bengal. From this use it became a title of rank without necessarily having any office attached. It is now a title occasionally conferred, like a peerage, on Mahommedan gentlemen of distinction and good service, as Rai and Raja are upon Hindus.

Nabob is used in two ways : (a) simply as a corruption and representative of Nawab. We get it direct from the Port. nabâbo, see quotation from Bluteau below. (b) It began to be applied in the 18th century, when the transactions of Clive made the epithet familiar in England, to Anglo-Indians who returned with fortunes from the East ; and Foote’s play of ‘The Nabob’ (Nábob) (1768) aided in giving general currency to the word in this sense.


1604.—“…delante del Nauabo que es justicia mayor.”—Guerrero, Relacion, 70.

1615.—“There was as Nababo in Surat a certain Persian Mahommedan (Mouro Parsio) called Mocarre Bethião, who had come to Goa in the time of the Viceroy Ruy Lourenço de Tavora, and who being treated with much familiarity and kindness by the Portuguese…came to confess that it could not but be that truth was with their Law.…”—Bocarro, p. 354.

1616.—“Catechumeni ergo parentes viros aliquot inducunt honestos et assessores Nauabi, id est, judicis supremi, cui consiliarii erant, uti et Proregi, ut libellum famosum adversus Pinnerum spargerent.”—Jarric, Thesaurus, iii. 378.

1652.—“The Nahab2 was sitting, according to the custom of the Country, barefoot, like one of our Taylors, with a great number of Papers sticking between his Toes, and others between the Fingers of his left hand, which Papers he drew sometimes from between his Toes, sometimes from between his Fingers, and order’d what answers should be given to every one.”— Tavernier, E. T. ii. 99 ; [ed. Ball, i. 291].

1653.—“…il prend la qualité de Nabab qui vault autant à dire que monseigneur.”—De la Boullaye-le-Gouz (ed. 1657), 142.

1666.—“The ill-dealing of the Nahab proceeded from a scurvy trick that was play’d me by three Canary-birds at the Great Mogul’s Court. The story whereof was thus in short…”—Tavernier, E.T. ii. 57 ; [ed. Ball, i. 134].

1673.—“Gaining by these steps a nearer intimacy with the Nabob, he cut the new Business out every day.”—Fryer, 183.

1675.—“But when we were purposing next day to depart, there came letters out of the Moorish Camp from the Nabab, the field-marshal of the Great Mogul.…”—Heiden Vervaarlijke Schíp-Breuk, 52.

1682.—“…Ray Nundelall ye Nábabs Duan, who gave me a most courteous reception, rising up and taking of me by ye hands, and ye like at my departure, which I am informed is a greater favour than he has ever shown to any Franke.…”—Hedges, Diary, Oct. 27 ; [Hak. Soc. i. 42]. Hedges writes Nabob, Nabab, Navab, Navob.

1716.—“Nabâbo Termo do Mogol. He o Titolo do Ministro que he Cabeca.”—Bluteau, s.v.

1727.—“A few years ago, the Nabob or Vice - Roy of Chormondel, who resides at Chickakal, and who superintends that Country for the Mogul, for some Disgust he had received from the Inhabitants of Diu Islands, would have made a Present of them to the Colony of Fort St. George.”—A. Hamilton, i. 374 ; [ed. 1744].

1742.—“We have had a great man called the Nabob (who is the next person in dignity to the Great Mogul) to visit the Governor. …His lady, with all her women attendance, came the night before him. All the guns fired round the fort upon her arrival, as well as upon his ; he and she are Moors, whose women are never seen by any man upon earth except their husbands.”—Letter from Madras in Mrs. Delany’s Life, ii. 169.

1743.—“Every governor of a fort, and every commander of a district had assumed the title of Nabob…one day after having received the homage of several of these little lords, Nizam ul muluck said that he had that day seen no less than eighteen Nabobs in the Carnatic.”—Orme, Reprint, Bk. i. 51.

1752.—“Agreed…that a present should be made the Nobab that might prove satisfactory.”—In Long, 33.


“And though my years have passed in this hard duty,
No Benefit acquired—no Nabob’s booty.”
Epilogue at Fort Marlborough, by W.Marsden, in Mem. 9.


“Of armaments by flood and field ;
Of Nabobs you have made to yield.”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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