There is disagreement as to whether the term was actually used in Egypt. Some evidence points to the word Pharaoh being used only used by the Greeks and Hebrews. There is support for the opinion that the title was actually used by the Egyptians during the New Kingdom (around 1600 to 1100 BC) to address the ruler of a united Egypt.


At first, Pharaoh was not a title, but the name of the palace. The original Egyptian word –per-aa – was formed from the hieroglyphics for house and column and it meant High House. Eventually it evolved into Great House and became the name of the monarch. Egyptians, called their rulers by many names, the most common being nesu.

To the citizens of ancient Egypt, the Pharaoh was divine, the living form of the falcon god, Horus, and the posthumous son of the divine king, lord of the dead and god of the afterlife, Osiris.