According to Wikipedia, the title "Pharaoh" is a New Kingdom one:

Pharaoh is the common title of the monarchs of ancient Egypt from the First Dynasty (c. 3150 BCE) until the Macedonian conquest in 305 BCE, although the actual term "Pharaoh" was not used contemporaneously for a ruler until circa 1200 BCE.

Pharaoh. (2017, March 15). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 13:25, March 16, 2017, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Pharaoh&oldid=770486002

What title did the Egyptians use for their rulers before the title "Pharaoh" came into use?

  • 1
    The word Pharaoh, merely means "king". The distinction is without a difference.
    – MCW
    Mar 16, 2017 at 11:49
  • 2
    @MarkC.Wallace: It became the word for "king" in Coptic, but that was late-era. Early on, "per aa" meant "high house".
    – DevSolar
    Mar 16, 2017 at 13:17

2 Answers 2


You are right that the title "Pharaoh" (Pr-a'a) is first used in the New Kingdom. Specifically, the first recorded use of the title is in the reign of the 18th Dynasty ruler, Thuthmosis III.

The more generally used word for "King" was nswt (nswt, often abbreviated to nsw). This is most commonly encountered on offering stella, where the standard offering formula begins:


which is transliterated as "htp-di-nsw" and translated as "an offering that the king gives".

Although "nswt" is often read simply as "King", strictly speaking we should perhaps think of the title as "King of Upper Egypt" (i.e. the Nile Valley). Another title given to the King was "nsw-bity" (nsw-bity) which literally means "lord of the sedge and the bee" and which we usually translate as "King of Upper and Lower Egypt" (i.e. the Nile Valley and the Nile delta).

Another title which was given to Egyptian kings was "nb-twy" (nb-twy) which we translate as "Lord of the two-lands", again referring to upper and lower Egypt.

In modern usage, however, people tend to use the term "Pharaoh" for ancient Egyptian kings of all periods.


  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. Feb 28, 2018 at 22:01

So I found the term "Neswet" or "Nesut" as being used to mean the king or the king's woman. I am still searching for more reputable sources on this but I think this answers the question. I have found multiple references to this though:

Ref 1 Ref 2

  • I saw on a documentary (not an entirely reliable source!) that it was first used by Hapsetshut, since she could not use the term king and it meant Royal House.
    – TheHonRose
    Mar 16, 2017 at 18:33
  • -t is supposed to be a feminine ending.
    – Spencer
    Mar 16, 2017 at 20:00

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