English honorifics

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In the English language, an English honorific is a form of address indicating respect. These can be titles prefixing a person's name, e.g.: Miss, Ms, Mr, Sir, Mrs, Dr, Lady or Lord, or titles or positions that can appear as a form of address without the person's name, as in Mr President, General, Captain, Father, Doctor or Earl.[1]

There are many forms of honorifics that are used when one addresses the members of the nobility, clergy, or royalty, mostly in countries that are monarchies.[citation needed] These include "Your Majesty", "Your Royal Highness" or simply "Your Highness", which are used to address certain members of royalty, or "My lord/lady" to address a peer other than a Duke, who is referred to as "Your Grace".[citation needed]

Some honorifics distinguish the sex of the person being referred to. Some titles of nobility and professional honorifics, such as the traditionally male-only Doctor or General, do not have gender-specific versions; women take the same form of the title as men.

Common titles[edit]

  • Master: (/ˈmɑːstər/) for boys or young men and as a title for the heir apparent of a Scottish baron or viscount. It may also be used as a professional title, e.g. for the master of a college or the master of a merchant ship.[2]
  • Mr: (/ˈmɪstər/ in the UK, /ˈmɪstər/ or /ˌmɪst, mɪs/ in the US) for men, regardless of marital status, who do not have another professional or academic title.[3][4] The varient Mister, with the same pronunciation, is sometimes used to give jocular or offensive emphasis, or to address a man whose name is unknown.[5]
    • "Mr." is used with the name of some offices to address a man who is the office-holder, e.g "Mr. President"; "Mr. Speaker".
  • Miss: (/ˈmɪs/) for girls, unmarried women and (in the UK) married women who continue to use their maiden name (although "Ms" is often preferred for the last two). In the UK, it is used in schools to address female teachers, regardless of marital status. It is also used, without a name, to address girls or young women and (in the UK) to address female shop assistants and wait staff.[6][7]
  • Mrs: (/ˈmɪsɪz/ in the UK, /ˈmɪsəz/ or /ˈmɪsəs/ in the US generally, or /ˈmɪzəz/ or /ˈmɪzəs/ in the southern US ) for married women who do not have another professional or academic title.[8][9] The varient Missus (/ˈmɪsəz/) is used in the UK to address a woman whose name is unknown.[10]
  • Ms: (/ˈmɪz/ or /məz/) for women, regardless of marital status or when marital status is unknown.[11][12]
  • Mx: (/ˈmɪks/ or /məks/) a recent (1970s) innovation, used as a gender-neutral honorific or for those who do not identify as male or female.[13]

Formal titles[edit]

  • Sir: for men, formally if they have a British knighthood or if they are a baronet (used with first name or full name, never surname alone) or generally (used on its own) as a term of general respect or flattery, when it is equivalent in meaning to "Madam" for women (see below). Also used in secondary schools; most tend not to call male teachers "Mr ___", but rather "Sir".
  • Gentleman: Originally a social rank, standing below an esquire and above a yeoman. The term can now refer to any man of good, courteous conduct. It is only generally used as an honorific form of address in the plural ("gentlemen" if referring to a group of men, or as part of "ladies and gentlemen" if referring to a mixed group), with "sir" (or "ladies and sir") being used for the singular.[14]
  • Sire: a term of address for a male monarch, previously could be used for a person in a position of authority in general or a lord.
  • Mistress is an archaic form of address for a woman, equivalent to Mrs. Used on its own, it was used to address the female head of a household.[15] The titles Mrs, Miss and Ms are abbreviations derived from Mistress.
  • Madam or Ma'am (/ˈmæm/ in General American and either /ˈmam/, /ˈmɑːm/, or /məm/ in Received Pronunciation.[16]): for women, a term of general respect or flattery. Originally used only to a woman of rank or authority. May also refer to a female pimp. Equivalent to "Sir" (see above).
    • All of "Sir", "Madam", and "Ma'am" are commonly used by workers performing a service for the beneficiary of the service, e.g. "May I take your coat, Ma'am?"
    • "Madam" is used with the name of an office to address a woman who is the office-holder, e.g "Madam President".
  • Dame: for women who have been honoured with a British knighthood in their own right. Women married to knighted individuals, but not knighted in their own right, are commonly referred to as "Lady".
  • Lord: for male barons, viscounts, earls, and marquesses, as well as some of their children. In some countries judges, especially those of higher rank, are referred to as lords, ladies or lordship/ladyship. (Style: Lordship or My Lord).
  • Lady: for female peers with the rank of baroness, viscountess, countess, and marchioness, or the wives of men who hold the equivalent titles. By courtesy the title is often also used for wives of Knights and Baronets. (Style: Your Ladyship or My Lady). As a plural, it may be used as an honorific for women generally ("ladies" if referring to a group of women, or as part of "ladies and gentlemen" if referring to a mixed group); "madam" (or "madam and gentlemen") is used in the singular.[14]
  • Esq: (/ɪˈskwaɪər/) (abbreviation of "esquire") in the UK used postnominally in written addresses for any adult male if no pre-nominal honorific (Mr, Dr, etc.) Is used. In the United States it is used in the same manner for attorneys (without distinction of gender) who have passed the bar exam and been admitted to practice.[17] May be punctuated "esq" or "esq." following practice for other post-nominals.
  • Excellency, also Excellence, a title of honor given to certain high officials, as governors, ambassadors, royalty, nobility, and Roman Catholic bishops and archbishops, (preceded by his, your, etc.).
  • Her/His Honour: Used for judges, mayors and magistrates in some countries. (Style: Your Honour)
  • The Honourable or The Honorable (abbreviated to The Hon., Hon. or formerly The Hon'ble, used for certain officials, members of congress, parliament, presidents, and judges (Style: My Lord/Lady or Your Lordship/Your Ladyship, Mr./Madam Ambassador, Your Honor)
  • The Right Honourable (or The Right Honorable in American spelling, although the title is not used in the US): used in the UK (sometimes abbreviated Rt Hon) for members of the Privy Council (high government officials, senior judges, archbishops, etc.) and, formally, for peers below the rank of Marquess (normally abbreviated to simply "The").[18][19]
  • The Most Honourable: for marquesses and marchionesses (and, as a group the Most Honourable Order of the Bath and Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council).[20]

Academic and professional titles[edit]

  • Dr: (/ˈdɒktər/) (abbreviation for Doctor) for the holder of a doctoral degree (e.g. PhD, or MD in many countries) and for medical practitioners, dentists and veterinary surgeons (including as a courtesy title in countries where these professionals do not normally hold doctoral degrees), although in some countries it is normal to address surgeons as "Mr", "Ms", etc.[21] The informal abbreviation "doc" (/dɒk/) is sometimes used.[22] UK citizens who hold doctoral degrees or are registered medical practitioners may have the title "Doctor" recorded in their passports.[23]
  • Professor: (/prəˈfɛsər/) (informally abbreviated to "prof" (/prɒf/)) for a person who holds the academic rank of professor in a university or other institution. In the UK this is a senior academic position and the title is always used in preference to "Dr", while in the US it refers to tenured or tenure-track academic staff and the title "Dr" is often preferred.[24][25] Professors may have their title recorded in UK passports.[23]
  • QC: postnominally in written addresses for a judge or barrister who has been made a Queen's Counsel (King's Counsel (KC) during the reign of a king). QCs may have this title recorded in UK passports.[23]
  • Eur Ing: for engineers registered as European Engineers with the European Federation of National Engineering Associations. European engineers may have this title recorded in UK passports.[23]
  • Chancellor: for the chancellor of a university.[26]
  • Vice-Chancellor: for the vice-chancellor of a university.[26]
    • At the University of Cambridge, "The Right Worshipful the Vice-Chancellor" is used formally.[26]
    • At the University of Oxford, "The Reverend the Vice-Chancellor" is used formally and the salutation is "Dear Mr Vice-Chancellor" rather than "Dear Vice-Chancellor".[26]
  • Principal, President, Master, Warden, Dean, Regent, Rector, Provost, Director, or Chief Executive: as appropriate for heads of colleges at the universities of Cambridge, Durham, London and Oxford, heads of the constituent universities of the National University of Ireland, and the head of Trinity College Dublin.[26]
    • Note titles sometimes double up, e.g "Vice-Chancellor and Warden" at Durham University or "Provost and President" at University College London

Religious titles[edit]

Christianity[edit]

Judaism[edit]

  • Rabbi: (Rabbi) In Judaism, a rabbi /ˈræb/ is an ordained religious officiant or a teacher of Torah. This title derives from the Hebrew word רַבִּיrabi [ˈʁäbi], meaning "My Master" (irregular plural רבנים rabanim [ʁäbäˈnim]), which is the way a student would address a master of Torah. The word "master" רב rav [ˈʁäv] literally means "great one".

Islam[edit]

  • Imam: for Islamic clergymen, specially the ones who lead prayers and deliver sermons. Sometimes "sheikh" is also used to signify the leadership role of a clergyman in the community in addition to their religious ceremony tasks.
  • Sayyid: males accepted as descendants of the Islamic prophet Muhammad through his grandsons, Hasan ibn Ali and Husayn ibn Ali, sons of Muhammad's daughter Fatimah and his son-in-law Ali (Ali ibn Abi Talib).[33]:149
  • Sharif: used for descendants of Hasan.
  • Haji (or Hajji) (/ˈhadʒiː/): used by Muslims who have completed the hajj pilgrimage.[34]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Honorific". Oxford Living Dictionaries. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 25 December 2016. 
  2. ^ "Master". Oxford Living Dictionaries. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 25 December 2016. 
  3. ^ "Mr". Oxford Living Dictionaries. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 25 December 2016. 
  4. ^ "Mr.". Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 25 December 2016. 
  5. ^ "Mister". Oxford Living Dictionaries. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 25 December 2016. 
  6. ^ "Miss". Oxford Living Dictionaries. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 25 December 2016. 
  7. ^ "Miss.". Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 25 December 2016. 
  8. ^ "Mrs". Oxford Living Dictionaries. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 25 December 2016. 
  9. ^ "Mrs.". Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 25 December 2016. 
  10. ^ "Missus". Oxford Living Dictionaries. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 25 December 2016. 
  11. ^ "Ms". Oxford Living Dictionaries. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 25 December 2016. 
  12. ^ "Ms.". Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 25 December 2016. 
  13. ^ "Mx". Oxford Living Dictionaries. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 25 December 2016. 
  14. ^ a b Judith Martin (15 November 1990). Miss Manners' Guide for the Turn-of-the-Millennium. Simon & Schuster. p. 52. 
  15. ^ "Mistress". Oxford Living Dictionaries. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 12 January 2017. 
  16. ^ "ma'am - definition of ma'am in English from the Oxford dictionary". oxforddictionaries.com. Retrieved 11 February 2015. 
  17. ^ "Esquire". Oxford Living Dictionaries. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 25 December 2016. 
  18. ^ Lord Norton of Louth (31 May 2012). "The Right Honourable Lord….". Retrieved 25 December 2016. 
  19. ^ "Politics". Debrett's. Retrieved 25 December 2016. 
  20. ^ "Most Honourable". Oxford Living Dictionaries. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 26 December 2016. 
  21. ^ "Doctor". Oxford Living Dictionaries. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 25 December 2016. 
  22. ^ "Doc". Oxford Living Dictionaries. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 25 December 2016. 
  23. ^ a b c d "Observations in Passports". HM Passport Office: passports policy. HM Passport Office. 7 February 2012. Retrieved 28 December 2016. 
  24. ^ Tom Hartley. "Dr Who or Professor Who? On Academic Email Etiquette". Retrieved 25 December 2016. 
  25. ^ "Professor". Oxford Living Dictionaries. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 25 December 2016. 
  26. ^ a b c d e "Academics". Debrett's. Retrieved 30 December 2016. 
  27. ^ a b c d "ECCLESIASTICAL FORMS OF ADDRESS FOR CATHOLICS RECOGNIZED IN THE UNITED STATES". Retrieved 26 December 2016. 
  28. ^ William Saunders. "How to Address Church Officials". Catholic Education Resource Center. Retrieved 26 December 2016. 
  29. ^ "HE". Oxford Living Dictionaries. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 26 December 2016. 
  30. ^ Albert Battandier (1907). Ecclesiastical Addresses. Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved 26 December 2016. 
  31. ^ a b c d "Religion". Debrett's. Retrieved 26 December 2016. 
  32. ^ "Honoring the Priesthood". lds.org. Retrieved 11 February 2015. 
  33. ^ Ho, Engseng (2006). The graves of Tarim genealogy and mobility across the Indian Ocean. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-93869-4. Retrieved 25 August 2016. 
  34. ^ "Haji". Oxford Living Dictionaries. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 25 December 2016.