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Titles in Ancient Egypt

Office-holding played a central role in the elite culture of ancient Egypt, locating the individual within society, most notably in relation to the king. Titles come in two forms: official or administrative titles, and conventional titles connected with status and authority. Abbreviated writings are common in both.

Conventional titles of status and authority

Two of the most common conventional titles are:

xtmty bity

Seal bearer of the king.

smr wat(y)

Sole companion.

Titles of office

Titles of office can be divided into secular and religious titles:

a) Secular titles



Governor, mayor.

imy-rA aXnwty

Overseer of the chamber.

A number of titles are composed with the element imy-r 'overseer':

imy-rA pr.

Steward, Overseer of the State.

imy-rA mSa

Overseer of the Army.

imy-rprobably means literally “the one in whom is the word” (the one who has the authority to issue orders). On the basis of a graphic pun around r.

(which means both “mouth” and “word”), it is occasionally written with  B44 tongue (the tongue being “the one in the month”):

imy-rA pr


b) Religious titles



Priest (literarily, servant of the god).



Priest (literarily, pure one).

Hry –sS tA

Master of secrets.



Lector priest.

It is not at all uncommon for titles to be written without determinatives.


Egyptian texts abound with epithets of gods, kings and officials. Here are a couple of related epithets particularly common on stelae:


imAxw or imAxy

Venerable one.


nb imAx

Possessor of veneration.

Other variants based on the fuller writings such as  'reverence', 'veneration'. These epithets are primarily applied to the blessed deceased. After a life of official duty and ethical behavior, the blessed deceased were revered by the living (who perpetuate their memory on Earth, particularly through offerings) and honored before the gods (with whom they exist beyond death as transfigured spirits). The latter is often expressed in the following way:

imAxy xr wsir

The revered one before Osiris.

Royal titles

God’s mother

mwt nTr

Lord of the two lands

nb tAwy

Good god

nTr nfr

Lady of the two lands

Hnwt tAwy

King’s sister

snt nsw

Great god

nTr aA

God’s consort

Hmt nTr

King’s daughter

sAt nsw

King’s mother

mwt nsw

King’s consort

Hmt nsw

King’s son

sA nsw