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dey

[dey]
noun
  1. the title of the governor of Algiers before the French conquest in 1830.
  2. a title sometimes used by the former rulers of Tunis and Tripoli.
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Origin of dey

1650–60; < French < Turkish dayι orig., maternal uncle
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for dey

dey

noun
  1. the title given to commanders or (from 1710) governors of the Janissaries of Algiers (1671–1830)
  2. a title applied by Western writers to various other Ottoman governors, such as the bey of Tunis
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Word Origin for dey

C17: from French, from Turkish dayi, literally: maternal uncle, hence title given to an older person
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for dey

n.1

Old English dæge "female servant, housekeeper, maid," from Proto-Germanic *daigjon (cf. Old Norse deigja "maid, female servant," Swedish deja "dairymaid"), from PIE *dheigh- "to form, build" (see dough). Now obsolete (though OED says, "Still in living use in parts of Scotland"), it forms the first element of dairy and the second of lady.

The ground sense seems to be "kneader, maker of bread;" advancing by Old Norse deigja and Middle English daie to mean "female servant, woman employed in a house or on a farm." Dæge as "servant" is the second element in many surnames ending in -day (e.g. Faraday, and perhaps Doubleday "servant of the Twin," etc.).

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n.2

1650s, "title of a military commander in Muslim north Africa," from Turkish dai "maternal uncle," a friendly title used of older men, especially by the Janissaries of Algiers of their commanding officers. There were also deys in Tunis and Tripoli.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper