Indian honorifics

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Indian honorifics are honorific titles or appendices to names used in India, covering formal and informal social, commercial, and religious relationships. These may take the form of prefixes, suffixes or replacements.

Prefix type[edit]

The most common honorifics in India are usually placed immediately before the name of the subject. Honorifics which can be used of any adult of the appropriate sex include '"Sri"' (also written as Shri), "'Smt'" and '"Kum"'.[citation needed]

  • Sri (Sanskrit: श्री॰; also Sree, Shri, Shree, Siri or Seri) is the most commonly used honorific for men. The title is derived from the Sanskrit श्रीमन्, "śrīman", and is akin to the English term "Mister".
  • Unmarried women bear the title Kum (कुमारी, read as kumārī) as they would the English "Miss", while married women employ Smt (श्रीमती, read as śrīmatī), the equivalent of "Mrs".
  • Thiru (Tamil: திரு is the most commonly used honorific for men in Tamil and is akin to the English term "Mister", while boys are called ""செல்வன்"", read as selvan.
  • Unmarried Women, Girls employ ""செல்வி"" (Tamil, read as "Selvi" Married women employ Tmd (திருமதி, read as thirumadhi), the equivalent of "Mrs".

In Hinduism[edit]

  • Pt: (Pandit) for priests in Hindu Temples or the Maestro of some skills (i.e. music/art/literature).
  • Shri: (Shriman) for men, similar to Mr. in English.
  • Smt: (Shrimati) for married women, similar to Mrs. in English.
  • Su/Ku: (Sushri or Kumwari) for unmarried women, similar to Miss. in English.

Replacement type[edit]

Some honorifics act as complete replacements for a name, as "Bhavān" (Sanskrit: भवान्) or "Bhavatī" (Sanskrit: भवती),"Seth", "Sethji", "Sethaani" (fem.).

  • Baba and Babaji mean "Father", and denote very great respect, usually also indicating the bearer's spiritual mastery.
  • Swami and Goswami are titles for monks and nuns, i.e. those who have enter the path of sannyasa or renunciation.
  • In Hinduism, paṇḍit is a title given to a scholar or teacher, particularly one skilled in Sanskrit and Hindu law, religion, music or philosophy. It is thus the origin of the English word pundit, which carries a somewhat similar connotation of learnedness.
  • Janab (Hindi: जनाब janāb) is sometimes used for the word "Mister" in Hindi. It is derived from Persian.
  • Sahab is used in North Indian languages as Sir. It is ultimately from Arabic.

Suffix type[edit]

  • The traditional Hindi honorific suffix is -ji. For example M.K. Gandhi, known outside India by the title Mahatma, was also often referred to as "Gandhi-ji" and "Bapu-ji".


See also[edit]