Talk:The Honourable

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Shouldn't this be at The Honourable, to be consistent with The Right Honourable and The Most Honourable? Proteus (Talk) 15:43, 18 Jun 2004 (UTC)

  • Comment: to Juntung: Which of these positions used The Right Honourable?
I have to check. --JuntungWu 10:23, 20 Oct 2004 (UTC)

the honourable the[edit]

According to the current article, the following awkard locutions are used:

  • The Honourable the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Parliament Assembled
  • The honourable the Leader of the Opposition

Can that really be right? The second "the" in each of these phrases sounds flat-out ungrammatical to me. --Trovatore 23:11, 4 December 2005 (UTC)

Yes, it's right. And it's certainly no more ungrammatical than "The Right Honourable The Prime Minister" or "The Most Honourable The Marquess of Anglesey" (i.e. not at all). Proteus (Talk) 23:24, 4 December 2005 (UTC)
It's absolutely correct parliamentary usage, although becoming less and less used. When a question without notice is asked of a minister, Speakers of the Australian House of Representatives these days call the Minister by saying "The Minister for ....", or "I call the Minister for ...". But some former Speakers always called a minister by saying "The honourable the Minister" or "The honourable the Minister for ...". It might seem ungrammatical at first, but it avoids the problem of attributing honour to individuals. JackofOz 23:29, 4 December 2005 (UTC)
Oh, so the idea is to attribute the honor to the office? I guess that makes some sort of sense (even if it's still ungrammatical, not just seems so, by the normal rules of the English language; adjectives can't modify noun phrases starting with articles). I don't see how it squares with usages like "The Right Honourable Paul Martin", though. And really, I don't see why an undeniably grammatical formulation like "the honourable leader of the opposition" would more attribute the honor to the person rather than the office. --Trovatore 23:53, 4 December 2005 (UTC)
It would tend to imply that there were other Leaders of the Opposition who weren't honourable, and that you were singling out that one that was (as one might say "the honest Minister" to distinguish him from all his less honest colleagues). As regards Mr Martin, this implication doesn't really exist for people's name — if I say "this is the honest Minister" you'd probably think I was making a snipe at the Government, but if I said "this is the very clever Stephen Fry" you presumably wouldn't think I was distinguishing him from all the other, less intelligent, Stephen Frys out there, but merely commenting favourably on the size of his brain. Proteus (Talk) 00:04, 5 December 2005 (UTC)
I guess that makes sense. It's still weird though. --Trovatore 00:20, 5 December 2005 (UTC)

American usage[edit]

I corrected the information on the American style. I killed the Mencken link. Honorableness in the United States has changed over time, but the current American usage is in line with what I posted. -James Howard (talk/web) 00:39, 16 April 2006 (UTC)

What authority can you cite, for this? Sounds completely ludicrous, to me:
In the United States, the prefix The Honorable is used for a large number of high ranking (and not so high ranking) government officials, within the following guidelines:
Any person elected to any public office at any level of American government; or
Any person appointed by the President to a position subject to Senate confirmation.
-- so, some turkey walks into a Washington DC cocktail party and insists on being called "The Honorable", well, everybody there just would laugh at him and tell him to go back to Peoria, I would bet -- at least I sure hope so, anyway, I hope things haven't gotten that bad, here in the US... I see that the Chicago Manual of Style confirms it: any other sources out there which do? and is it really common US practice, now? ain't we become precious, if it is...
--Kessler 22:45, 6 June 2006 (UTC)

I believe that there is real question if all persons elected to any public office are "Honorable" for life. Certainly, governor's are, (leading to the "Hon. Jesse Ventura"), former federal officials confirmed by the Senate (for example, "Hon. Henry A. Kissinger, Ph D") former presidents and members of Congress, former judges (even at times in court), even former mayors of small towns.

All others, especially after they leave office, is a very broad category, and I question if even most local elected and appointed officials are "Honorable," even while in office. I have never seen anyone out of office at the local level being "Honorable," and only rarely in office (exclusive of a mayor).

Just to give an example, there are 67 counties (with a minimum of 11 elective positions), 500 school districts with an elected board (9 elective members) and over 2,500 municipal governments (with a minimum of 4 elective members). There are a minimum of 15,000 elected officials (the actual number could be three or four times that) and possibly double that for former officials.

This article seems to disagree with the premise of all elected local people be "Honorable" for life, though there are questions about state legislators.

The claim that "honorable" is given to any elected official really needs to verified as should if it is attached only during the term of office.

I don't expect to become "The Honorable J. J in PA," anytime soon.

--J. J. in PA 20:41, 3 March 2007 (UTC)

Where in the American section of this article do you see the terms, "for life?" I can't find it. I see it only referring to persons actually in office. The use of the term after one has left office isn't addressed at all.HarvardOxon 22:28, 3 March 2007 (UTC)

It does by implication. The line reads, "Any person elected to any public office at any level of American government." I've been elected to public office at the local level, though I'm not holding public office right now and have not for nearly two decades. Yet I still have been elected and will be for life.

I'm not entirely sure that even people currently holding elective public office at the local level would be styled "Honorable" even while holding office.

Some positions do however, grant the style of Honorable to the holder, even after leaving office. Ex-presidents, ex-governor, ex-judges, ex-Congress members, and even ex-federal appointees that are confirmed by the Senate do retain the style (I think applies to Scooter Libby as well, though don't hold me to that). I believe that applies to ex-mayors as well, at the local level. There is some dispute about state cabinet members and other state elected officials (e.g. the state treasurer, state legislators).

I believe this should be clarified at the least. --J. J. in PA 03:32, 4 March 2007 (UTC)

Ummm...says who? There are no laws in the US about such matters. because the local American Legion chooses to list everybody in creation on its Flag Day program as Honorable doesn't mean everybody should or must get the title for life. The use of the term is,on almost all occasions, customary, a matter of etiquette, not law. So ex-presidents, etc., don't "retain the style," unless individual citizens choose to give it to them when they address them. Further, this is a republic -- people elected to office don't hold it for life. If you attend an event in NYC, you will find damn near everybody wuith a govt job gets called Honorable, particularly by community groups dependent on them for funding. The US section is about current, customary practice, not Divine Positive Law regarding lifetime status.HarvardOxon 04:21, 4 March 2007 (UTC)

Well, as with all courtesy titles, there are guides, as can be seen here: These guides are a bit more formal that the heading on an American Legion Flag Day program. It is and can be cited that the proper way to address a former president, in writing, is "Honorable [first name, last name]." I'm not seeing that in regard to most local officials.

Likewise, I can find former Members of Congress being addressed as "honorable" in formal settings (and by legislative bodies).

We can look at the "customary usage" as well, but, so far as I've seen, the custom does not grant "honorable" to local officials (exclusive of mayors).

I do not see the NYC analogy as relevant. --J. J. in PA 04:56, 4 March 2007 (UTC)

[dubious ][edit]

I've added this section as it relates to all elected officials in the US.

There are two questions that should be answered:

1. Do all elected officials while holding office get the style of Honorable?

2. Do all persons that were elected at some point in their lives, but are not now holding office, retain the style after leaving office.

Certain election do retain the courtesy style, i.e., people that have been presidents of the United States, governors, members of Congress, judges (state and federal), federal appointees that have been confirmed by the Senate.

It is questionable if this extends to state legislators and, possibly excepting mayors, if it is applied to people holding or people who have held, local offices.

There are examples in usage, e.g. Reagan: a Life in Letters show then President Reagan addressing correspondence to his friend, ex-Senator George Murphy, as "Honorable," even in what is clearly personal correspondence and at times when Murphy had not been in the Senate for more than a decade.

Here we have references to the "Honorable William Jefferson Clinton."

Likewise the former Kansas Senator is referred to as the "Honorable Robert J Dole."

Former Speaker of the US House is referred to as "Honorable Newt Gingrich. Note that in the latter case, he was so referred to in a US Senate Committee.

If all elected officials do not become "Honorable," that passage should be noted. Also, if some people with the style of "honorable" do not retain it for life, while some do, that should be noted. --J. J. in PA 15:55, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

In checking, California School Boards are publicly elected. listed [[1]] The member is not listed as "Honorable" but as "Mr." It seems very clear not all elected officials in the US are not granted the style of "Honorable."

The article needs to include this and it is error as it now stands.

--J. J. in PA 00:30, 8 March 2007 (UTC)

There are numerous examples that show that non-elected appointees are not given the style of "Honorable." These include:

[[2]] The city manager and finance director are not so styled.

[[3]] The communications officer is not so styled.

[[4]]As noted, an elected school board member is not so styled, though others, such as state officials and mayors, are. Until these can be clarified, the statements should be listed as dubious. It is clearly not all locally elected or appointed officials.

--J. J. in PA 00:49, 8 March 2007 (UTC)

I would suggest that this is complicated somewhat because the American tradition seems to be to refer to people by their office - not their honorific. E.g. "Former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack", not "The Honorable Tom Vilsack". So even in cases where one is legally entitled to the honorific, it may not be used often. Conversely, there are presumably areas in the United States where one receives the honorific even if not legally entitled to it.
I would further suggest that the practice would likely vary state to state, and may even vary by town or county, as far as both legal/official and unofficial usage are concerned. --Tim4christ17 talk 09:36, 17 March 2007 (UTC)
I'm trying to write an entry including various sources. I have found the federal standards (which includes former governors), and most sources do say that the style is for life (including the State Department). I can post what I have so far here, if you want to look at it.

I have to get all the other various sources.--J. J. in PA 00:16, 19 March 2007 (UTC)

American Usage - - "Federal Usage"[edit]

The "Federal Usage" is published by US Department of State; a link has been provided in text. It does not included members of local legislative bodies, e.g. members of city council.

Some other sources do include members of local legislative bodies, but this noted in the article.

Please do not include city/county legislators under the Federal Usage.

J. J. in PA 23:14, 26 October 2007 (UTC)


GEORGE BUSH IS REFERRED TO AS EXCELLENCY? WTF? sourcE? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:16, 18 February 2008 (UTC)

"Excellency" is sometimes used for the head of state of a republic.

"Excellency" is also used for governors in other states, e.g. Pennsylvania. The recently added comment should be reworded.

J. J. in PA (talk) 20:27, 4 March 2008 (UTC)

Major rewrite[edit]

Someone did a major re-write of the American section which removed citations and included inaccurate information (including a reference to an outgoing president in 1945) . Franklin Roosevelt died in 1945, so there was no outgoing president.

I have restored the text and footnotes and will redo the format and links.

J. J. in PA (talk) 02:56, 19 September 2009 (UTC) J. J. in PA

standard Commonwealth usage[edit]

The NZ entry refers to 'standard Commonwealth usage', but it's not explained anywhere (as far as I can see) what standard Commonwealth usage is. Does anybody know? This would of course be a useful addition to this page. Schwede66 08:22, 8 June 2010 (UTC)

Camilla's mother is a "Hon"! Why?[edit]

Well, seems the article doesn't cover the whole use of Hon. in the UK? A pivotal example is Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall. Her mother is referred to as The Honourable Rosalind Shand. But why? In the United Kingdom, all sons and daughters of viscounts and barons (including baronies created as life peerages) and the younger sons of earls are styled with this prefix. None of them appears to apply to Mrs. Shand and her daughter. -andy (talk) 06:28, 22 November 2010 (UTC)

Camillia's mother is the daughter of Roland Cubitt, 3rd Baron Ashcombe. McLerristarr | Mclay1 13:46, 9 December 2010 (UTC)

International diplomacy / American exception[edit]

The section on International Diplomacy claims "The only exception to this is American Ambassadors, who by State Department protocol use the style The Honorable instead of Excellency." I'm going to remove, although if someone can provide a citation, to be determined. Claim seems contradictory in nature: what State Dept wants to style US Ambassadors while they are in the US is not really a function of international diplomacy, but domestic protocol; 'Excellency' is a term used for Ambassadors while outside their own country.Gregalton (talk) 01:16, 10 February 2011 (UTC)

US/Why traffic commissioners are sometimes referred as honorable?[edit]

They do get to play judges in so called "Traffic Courts" but they really aren't judges. Yet, they sometimes use the title "Honorable". Are there any official documents allowing them to use this title or they just use it by themselves? Yurivict (talk) 01:45, 24 July 2011 (UTC)

Basically, even members of the minor judiciary are referred to as "The Honorable." I've seen it, by the Attorney General of Pennsylvania no less, to refer to county level officials. At the extreme local level (township supervisor, borough council, school board), is where I've seen the general cutoff. J. J. in PA (talk) 20:06, 25 February 2012 (UTC) J. J. in PA

Honorific prefixes for the US Presidents[edit]

Snowmageddon oppose. Viriditas (talk) 11:39, 25 January 2016 (UTC)

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

Can we generate consensus for the addition of the honorific prefix of "The Honorable" on the articles of the United States Presidents? 1. Should we add them in the first place? 2. Should we keep them on ALL US presidents, or just the living ones? 3. Should it be boldened? CatcherStorm talk 06:48, 23 December 2015 (UTC)

"the Honorable" is NEVER used for dead people so all the dead presidents involve a misuse. Source: " The courtesy title the Honorable is used when addressing or listing the name of a living person. When the name of a deceased person is listed it's just (Full Name) + Office Held that is pertinent to the story being told for which the photo is would never be The Honorable John F. Kennedy. Robert Hickey Rjensen (talk) 10:38, 23 December 2015 (UTC)
Alright, I propose we keep it to the living presidents then. CatcherStorm talk 10:43, 23 December 2015 (UTC)
But it's misleading. students will start using it in their papers and get graded down. It's only used in addressing. Rjensen (talk) 10:55, 23 December 2015 (UTC)
the term is appropriate when you are writing the president on paper (not email), or when you are introducing him to a live audience. Those are rare events for our readers. Much more likely is a student will write an exam or termpaper and talk about the foreign policy of the Honorable President XXX. The student will be making a mistake. Rjensen (talk) 17:33, 23 December 2015 (UTC)
  • 0ppose - Not commonly used in Washington, nor by the Protocol Office at the State Dept., for Presidents (those living, and certainly not for those deceased). Presidents are addressed as: "The President" (no name); "Dear Mr. President"; etc.
    The honorific, "the Honorable" is primarily used (and is required by protocol) when addressing correspondence to Members of Congress and for the Judiciary, as well as on rare occasions for members of the President's Cabinet (although "Mr. Secretary", "Madam Secretary", etc. is preferred).
    It would not be inappropriate to add "The Honorable" to articles in Wikipedia for U.S. Members of Congress, if desired, and for members of the U.S. Federal Judiciary. Any other usages, however, should be discouraged. --- Professor JR (talk) 17:47, 23 December 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose - It is not used when addressing the passed away Presidents, and it is only used in some correspondences. When addressing a US President, they are referred to as Mr. President" or "Madam President. Dave Dial (talk) 17:24, 24 December 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose - In what instances would it be acceptable to use "The Honorable"? Looks like in most cases it isn't. Meatsgains (talk) 00:09, 27 December 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose - It seems from other comments that this is not protocol, but even if it were, it would at most deserve a mention as HOW the president is addressed formally in particular defined circumstances. Common Name comes into play here, and Barack Obama, or President Obama etc. are both common and sufficiently respectful. Pincrete (talk) 00:33, 28 December 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose - As per the previous "oppose"s, this term is just a way to address someone, and not an official designation. (IMHO no different to how Japanese add a -san/-chan/-kun to at the endo fnames. It might reach common usage, but is still akin to "a figure of speech". Zhanzhao (talk) 08:35, 28 December 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose per above. The bot sent me. First I've heard of it. I always thought it was just Mr. President. SW3 5DL (talk) 05:20, 5 January 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose as per above. Buster Seven Talk 01:01, 18 January 2016 (UTC)

The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.