As political geography changed in the wake of the Balkan Wars and
World War I, "Middle East" was increasingly used to refer
to territories that had earlier been spoken of as Near East, such
as the Arab lands formerly under Ottoman control. In 1920, the Royal
Geographical Society’s Permanent Commission on Geographical
Names ruled that "Middle East" should refer to the lands
from the Bosphorus to the eastern frontiers of India, while "Near
East" should be used to refer to the Balkans. In popular usage,
however, Egypt and the Levant were commonly referred to as Near
East through World War II.
Source: Roderic H. Davison,
“Where Is the Middle East?” Foreign Affairs
38 (1960): 668.