title of sovereign princes in Tatar counties, c. 1400, from Turkic, literally "lord, prince," contraction of khaqan "ruler, sovereign." The word has been known in the languages of Europe since 13c.; compare Medieval Latin chanis, Medieval Greek kanes, Old French chan, Russian khanu. In time it degenerated and became a title of respect. The female form is khanum (1824), from Turkish khanim.
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