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English honorifics

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English honorifics

In the English language, an English honorific is a title prefixing a person's name, e.g.: Miss, Ms, Mr, Sir, Mrs, Dr, Lady or Lord. They are not titles or positions that can appear without the person's name, as in the President or the Earl.

There are many forms of honorifics that are used when addressing the members of the nobility, clergy, or royalty, mostly in countries that are monarchies. These include "Your Majesty" and "Your Highness", which are often used when speaking with royalty, or "My lord/lady" to address a peer other than a Duke, who is referred to as "Your Grace".

Some honorifics distinguish the sex of the person being referred to. Some titles of the nobility and of professional honorifics, such as Doctor or General, are not gender specific because they were traditionally male-only professions, and women have simply adopted the associated titles.


  • Common titles 1
  • Formal titles 2
  • Dr/Professor Titles 3
  • Religious organizational titles 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6

Common titles

  • Mr: (Mister) for men, regardless of marital status.
  • Master: for young men and boys, especially in the UK.
  • Ms: ( or ) for women, regardless of marital status.
  • Mz.: variation of Ms., used for women who do not wish to disclose their marital status.
  • Miss: usually for unmarried women, though also used by married female entertainers (e.g. actresses).. Also used in secondary schools ; most tend not to call female teachers "Mrs (or Miss, Ms etc) ___", but rather "Miss" in all cases.
  • Mrs: ( or ) for married women.
  • Mx: ( or ) is a commonly accepted[1][2] gender-neutral honorific.[3][4]

Formal titles

  • Sir: for men, formally if they have a British knighthood or if they are a baronet, or generally as a term of general respect or flattery. Equivalent to "Madam" (see below). Also used in some secondary schools ; most tend not to call male teachers "Mr ___", but rather "Sir".
  • Madam or Ma'am ( in General American and either //, , or in Received Pronunciation.[5]): for women, a term of general respect or flattery. Equivalent to "Sir" (see above).
    • Both "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?"
  • Dame: for women who have been honored 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. (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.

(Style: Your Ladyship or My Lady)

  • Esq: (Esquire), in the UK, was historically used for a person of higher social rank who did not have a specific title. Today it is a very formal method of addressing any adult male. All correspondence addressed by Buckingham Palace to adult male UK subjects uses the suffix 'Esq.' In the United States the title is utilized for attorneys who have passed the bar exam and been admitted to practice.
  • Adv: (Advocate) for notable lawyers and jurists, used in Scotland, South Africa and other countries.

Dr/Professor Titles

  • Dr: (Doctor) for a person who has an academic research degree, such as Doctor of Philosophy (PhD). In the United States it applies to those who have obtained a first professional degree, such as the Doctor of Medicine (MD), Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO), Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS), Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD), Doctor of Optometry (OD), Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) or Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM). In Commonwealth countries, medical practitioners Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS or MBChB), dentists Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS), use the honorific 'Dr', though surgeons, upon completion of MRCS and admission to the Royal College, are often addressed as 'Mr' or 'Miss' in the UK and in New Zealand. Unlike in the US, Doctor of Medicine (MD) in some Commonwealth countries is a higher research degree obtained after first qualifying for a medical degree (MBBS). Many universities (and some professional schools) and graduate psychology programs (usually in counseling developmental, or educational/learning psychology) offer a doctorate in education (EdD). All this degree means is that your doctorate is granted by a college of education.
  • Prof: (Professor) for a person in a Commonwealth country who holds the academic rank of professor in a university. Such rank is above that of "lecturer", the basic rank of a tenured or tenure-track academician. In the United States "professor" is used as a title for any tenured or tenure-track academician. Professor in a Commonwealth country is roughly equivalent to a chaired professor in the United States. Professors may or may not have doctoral degrees, but almost always do. Professor is nevertheless considered a senior title to "doctor".

Religious organizational titles

  • Br: (Brother) for men generally in some religious organizations; in the Catholic Church and Eastern churches, for male members of religious orders or communities, who are not Priests.
  • Fr: (Father) for priests in Catholic and Eastern Christianity, as well as some Anglican or Episcopalian groups; Generally equivalent to 'Reverend' (see below).
  • Rev.: (Reverend) used generally for members of the Christian clergy regardless of affiliation, but especially in Protestant denominations. Equivalent to 'Father' (see above).
  • Pr: (Pastor) used generally for members of the Christian clergy regardless of affiliation, but especially in Protestant denominations. Equivalent to 'Reverend' (see above).
  • Elder: (Elder) used generally for male missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) and for members of the adult leadership known as the general authorities. Although most all male adults of the LDS church are Elders, the title is reserved for the prior mentioned groups.[6]
  • Rabbi: (Rabbi) In Judaism, a rabbi is an ordained religious officiant or a teacher of Torah. This title derives from the Hebrew word רַבִּי rabi , meaning "My Master" (irregular plural רבנים rabanim ), which is the way a student would address a master of Torah. The word "master" רב rav literally means "great one".

See also


  1. ^ "The Growing Use of Mx as a Gender-inclusive Title in the UK" (PDF). UK Trans Info. 2.4. 6 February 2015. Retrieved 12 October 2015. 
  2. ^ Paton, Callum (3 May 2015). "Mr, Mrs, Miss... and Mx: Transgender people will be able to use new title on official documents".  
  3. ^ Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty, Councillor Warren Morgan, Councillor Denise Cobb, Jay Stewart, Michelle Ross (January 2013). "Trans Equality Scrutiny Panel" (PDF). Brighton & Hove City Council. Retrieved 12 October 2015. 
  4. ^ Elefheriou-Smith, Loulla-Mae (3 May 2015). "Gender neutral honorific Mx 'to be included' in the Oxford English Dictionary alongside Mr, Ms and Mrs and Miss".  
  5. ^ "ma'am - definition of ma'am in English from the Oxford dictionary". Retrieved 11 February 2015. 
  6. ^ "Honoring the Priesthood". Retrieved 11 February 2015. 
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