SARDĀR, in Persian amalgam of sar (head) and dār (a suffix derived from the verb dāshtan, i.e. to hold) meaning holder of headship, is an honorific signifying an officer of rank, a general or chief of a tribe or organization. Sikhs among whom, during the time of the Gurū and for half a century thereafter, no words indicative of high rank were current other than the common appellation bhāī or, rarely, bābā to express reverence due to age or descent from the Gurūs, adopted sardār for the leaders of their jathās or bands fighting against Afghān invaders under Ahmad Shāh Durrānī. With the expansion of the fighting force of the Sikhs under the misls the number of Sikh sardārs multiplied. During the reign of Mahārājā Raṇjīt Siṅgh and his successors, sardār came to be used as an appellation for all ready Sikhs as well as for Sikhs in general having Siṅgh as their common surname, although officially sardār was a coveted title conferred on generals or civil officers of rank. The British government also used the word selectively by incorporating it in the titles of sardār sāhib and sardār bahādur conferred mostly, but not exclusively, on Sikhs. In the Sikh princely states of Paṭiālā, Nābhā, Jīnd, Kapūrthalā, Farīdkoṭ and Kalsīā, too, sardār signified rank irrespective of the religious affiliation of the official so entitled. In the army, both under the British and in free India, junior commissioned officers called Viceroy's Commissioned Officers (V.C.Os) before independence are referred to as sardār sāhibān. Generally, every turbaned Sikh with unshorn hair is addressed as sardārjī, and it is customary to use sardār in place of "Mr." before a Sikh name.