Pasha or pacha, formerly bashaw, (paşa پاشا) (Persian: پاشا) (Armenian: Փաշա) was a high rank in the Ottoman Empire political system, typically granted to governors and generals. As an honorary title, "Pasha" in one of its various ranks is equivalent to the British title of "Lord".
The Ottoman sultan of Turkey and (by delegation) the viceroyal khedive of Egypt had the right to bestow the title of Pasha. The title appears, originally, to have applied exclusively to military commanders, but subsequently it could distinguish any high official, and also unofficial persons whom the court desired to honour.
It was also part of the official style of the Kapudan Pasha (Great Admiral of the entire Ottoman fleet).
Three grades of Pasha existed, distinguished by the number of yak- or horse-tails (three, two and one respectively; a symbol of Turco-Mongol tradition) or peacock tails, which the bearers were entitled to display on their standard as a symbol of military authority when on campaign. Only the Sultan himself was entitled to four tails, as sovereign commander in chief.
The following military ranks entitled the holder to the style Pasha (lower ranks were styled Bey or merely Effendi):
If a Pasha governed a provincial territory, it could be called a pashaluk after his military title, besides the administrative term for the type of jurisdiction, e.g. eyalet, vilayet. Both Beylerbeys (governors-general) and Valis (the most common type of Governor) were entitled to the style of Pasha (typically with two tails). The word pashalik designated any province or other jurisdiction of a Pasha.
Ottoman authorities conferred the title upon both Muslims and Christians without distinction. They also frequently gave it to foreigners in the service of the Turks or of the Egyptians, e.g. Hobart Pasha.
The sons of a Pasha were styled Pashazada or Pasha-zade, which means just that.