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Persia /
Persian: shāh
In full: shāhanshāh
Old Persian: khshayathiya

First shah: Reza Shah Pahlavi.

First shah: Reza Shah Pahlavi.

The second, and last, shah: Muhammad Reza Shah Pahlavi.
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The second, and last, shah: Muhammad Reza Shah Pahlavi.

Title of the ruler of Persia, from 1935 ruler of Iran. The title was also used for the king of Afghanistan until the coup in 1973.
The correct term would be "shah-en-shah", meaning "king's king" or "emperor". The transference into the shorter "shah" is mainly a matter of the recounting in foreign languages; all Persian kings called themselves "shah-en-shah". The term was introduced to Western languages in the 16th century, first as "shaw", which was a shortening of the original word. Some modern accounts make the shortening into "shah", which also denotes an inferior title to "king's king", a mean act by foreigners. But it is most likely that this, as was the case with so many other imported words, was merely an act of convenience.
The earliest traces of the term go back to the 1st millennium BCE, when the rulers of the Achaemenid Dynasty called themselves "king's king", xshāyathiya xshāyathiyānām.
The heir to the shah title, was called a shāhzāda.
The title has also been used for hereditary governors, as well as for Sufi leaders. The word has also become popular as a name, most noteworthy is its use as the family name of royal families, like what was the case in Nepal.
Passing by Arabic, "shah" is the origin of the Western word for chess.

By Tore Kjeilen