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An honorific is a title that conveys esteem, courtesy, or respect for position or rank when used in addressing or referring to a person. Sometimes, the term "honorific" is used in a more specific sense to refer to an honorary academic title. It is also often conflated with systems of honorific speech in linguistics, which are grammatical or morphological ways of encoding the relative social status of speakers. Honorifics can be used as prefixes or suffixes depending on the appropriate occasion and presentation in accordance with style and customs.

Typically, honorifics are used as a style in the grammatical third person, and as a form of address in the second person. Use in the first person, by the honored dignitary, is uncommon or considered very rude and egotistical. Some languages have anti-honorific (despective or humilific) first person forms (expressions such as "your most humble servant" or "this unworthy person") whose effect is to enhance the relative honor accorded to the person addressed.

Modern English honorifics

The most common honorifics in modern English are usually placed immediately before a person's name. Honorifics which can be used (both as style and as form of address) include, in the case of a man, "Mr" (irrespective of marital status), while, in the case of a woman, the honorific may depend on her marital status: if she is unmarried it is "Miss"; if she has been married it is "Mrs"; and if her marital status is unknown, or it is not desired to specify it, "Ms". The honorific "Mstr" may also be used for a boy who has not yet entered adult society. Someone who does not want to express a gender with their honorific may occasionally use Mx, Ind. or Misc..

In the U.S., these terms are styled with a period ("Mr." or "Mrs.") because they were originally abbreviations (of "Mister" and "Mistress"). "Ms." is also styled with a period for consistency. In the United Kingdom, full stops are typically not used.

Other honorifics may denote the honored person's occupation, for instance "Doctor", "Esquire", "Captain", "Coach", "Officer", "The Reverend" (for all Christian clergy) or "Father" (for a Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, or Anglican Christian priest), "Rabbi" for Jewish clergy, or Professor.[a] Holders of an academic Doctorate such as PhD are addressed as "Doctor" (abbreviated Dr). "Master" as a prefix ahead of the name of boys and young men up to about 16 years of age is less common than it used to be, but is still used by older people addressing the young in formal situations and correspondence.

Some honorifics act as complete replacements for a name, as "Sir" or "Ma'am", or "Your Honour/Honor". Subordinates will often use honorifics as punctuation before asking a superior a question or after responding to an order: "Yes, sir" or even "Sir, yes, sir."

Judges are often addressed as "Your Honour/Honor" when on the bench, and the style is "His/Her Honour" the plural form is "Your Honours". If the judge also has a higher title, that may be the correct honorific to use, for example, in Britain: "Your Lordship". Members of the U.S. Supreme Court are addressed as "Justice".

Similarly, a monarch (ranking as a king/queen or emperor) and his/her <

Typically, honorifics are used as a style in the grammatical third person, and as a form of address in the second person. Use in the first person, by the honored dignitary, is uncommon or considered very rude and egotistical. Some languages have anti-honorific (despective or humilific) first person forms (expressions such as "your most humble servant" or "this unworthy person") whose effect is to enhance the relative honor accorded to the person addressed.

The most common honorifics in modern English are usually placed immediately before a person's name. Honorifics which can be used (both as style and as form of address) include, in the case of a man, "Mr" (irrespective of marital status), while, in the case of a woman, the honorific may depend on her marital status: if she is unmarried it is "Miss"; if she has been married it is "Mrs"; and if her marital status is unknown, or it is not desired to specify it, "Ms". The honorific "Mstr" may also be used for a boy who has not yet entered adult society. Someone who does not want to express a gender with their honorific may occasionally use Mx, Ind. or Misc..

In the U.S., these terms are styled with a period ("Mr." or "Mrs.") because they were originally abbreviations (of "Mister" and "Mistress"). "Ms." is also styled with a period for consistency. In the United Kingdom, full stops are typically not used.

Other honorifics may denote the honored person's occupation, for instance "Doctor", "Esquire", "Captain", "Coach", "Officer", "The Reverend" (for all Christian clergy) or "Father" (for a Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, or Anglican Christian priest), "Rabbi" for Jewish clergy, or Professor.[a] Holders of an academic Doctorate such as PhD are addressed as "Doctor" (abbreviated Dr). "Master" as a prefix ahead of the name of boys and young men up to about 16 years of age is less common than it used to be, but is still used by older people addressing the young in formal situations and correspondence.

Some honorifics act as complete replacements for a name, as "Sir" or "Ma'am", or "Your Honour/Honor". Subordinates will often use honorifics as punctuation before asking a superior a question or after responding to an order: "Yes, sir" or even "Sir, yes, sir."

Judges are often addressed as "Your Honour/Honor" when on the bench, and the style is "His/Her Honour" the plural form is "Your Honours". If the judge also has a higher title, that may be the correct honorific to use, for example, in Britain: "Your Lordship". Members of the U.S. Supreme Court are addressed as "Justice".

Similarly, a monarch (ranking as a king/queen or emperor) and his/her consort may be addressed or referred to as "Your/His/Her Majesty", "Their Majesties", etc. (but there is no customary honorific accorded to a female monarch's consort, as he is usually granted a specific style). Monarchs below kingly rank are addressed as "Your/His/Her Highness", the exact rank being indicated by an appropriate modifier, e.g. "His Serene Highness" for a member of a princely dynasty, or "Her Grand Ducal Highness" for a member of a family that reigns over a grand duchy. Verbs with these honorifics as subject are conjugated in the third person (e.g. "you are going" vs. "Your Honour is going" or "Her Royal Highness is going".) Protocol for monarchs and aristocrats can be very complex, with no general rule; great offence can be given by using a form that is not exactly correct. There are differences between "Your Highness" and "Your Royal Highness"; between "Princess Margaret" and "The Princess Margaret". All these are correct, but apply to people of subtly different rank. An example of a non-obvious style is "Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother", which was an official style, but unique to one person.

In music, a distinguished conductor or virtuoso instrumentalist may be known as "Maestro".

In aviation, pilots in command of a larger civil aircraft are usually addressed as "Captain" plus their full name or surname. This

In the U.S., these terms are styled with a period ("Mr." or "Mrs.") because they were originally abbreviations (of "Mister" and "Mistress"). "Ms." is also styled with a period for consistency. In the United Kingdom, full stops are typically not used.

Other honorifics may denote the honored person's occupation, for instance "Doctor", "Esquire", "Captain", "Coach", "Officer", "The Reverend" (for all Christian clergy) or "Father" (for a Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, or Anglican Christian priest), "Rabbi" for Jewish clergy, or Professor.[a] Holders of an academic Doctorate such as PhD are addressed as "Doctor" (abbreviated Dr). "Master" as a prefix ahead of the name of boys and young men up to about 16 years of age is less common than it used to be, but is still used by older people addressing the young in formal situations and correspondence.

Some honorifics act as complete replacements for a name, as "Sir" or "Ma'am", or "Your Honour/Honor". Subordinates will often use honorifics as punctuation before asking a superior a question or after responding to an order: "Yes, sir" or even "Sir, yes, sir."

Judges are often addressed as "Your Honour/Honor" when on the bench, and the style is "His/Her Honour" the plural form is "Your Honours". If the judge also has a higher title, that may be the correct honorific to use, for example, in Britain: "Your Lordship". Members of the U.S. Supreme Court are addressed as "Justice".

Similarly, a monarch (ranking as a king/queen or emperor) and his/her consort may be addressed or referred to as "Your/His/Her Majesty", "Their Majesties", etc. (but there is no customary honorific accorded to a female monarch's consort, as he is usually granted a specific style). Monarchs below kingly rank are addressed as "Your/His/Her Highness", the exact rank being indicated by an appropriate modifier, e.g. "His Serene Highness" for a member of a princely dynasty, or "Her Grand Ducal Highness" for a member of a family that reigns over a grand duchy. Verbs with these honorifics as subject are conjugated in the third person (e.g. "you are going" vs. "Your Honour is going" or "Her Royal Highness is going".) Protocol for monarchs and aristocrats can be very complex, with no general rule; great offence can be given by using a form that is not exactly correct. There are differences between "Your Highness" and "Your Royal Highness"; between "Princess Margaret" and "The Princess Margaret". All these are correct, but apply to people of subtly different rank. An example of a non-obvious style is "Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother", which was an official style, but unique to one person.

In music, a distinguished conductor or virtuoso instrumentalist may be known as "Maestro".

In aviation, pilots in command of a larger civil aircraft are usually addressed as "Captain" plus their full name or surname. This tradition is slowly diminishing in the United States and most European Union countries.[citation needed] However, many countries, especially in Asia, follow this tradition and address airline pilots, military pilots, and flight instructors exclusively as "Captain" even outside of the professional environment. In addition, such countries' etiquette rules dictate that this title must be placed on all the official letters and social invitations, business cards, identification documents, etc. In the U.S., when addressing a pilot, common etiquette does not require the title "Captain" to be printed on official letters or invitations before the addressee's full name. However, this is optional (akin to "Esq" after an attorney's name, in the U.S.) and may be used where appropriate, especially when addressing airline pilots with many years of experience.

Occupants of state and political office may be addressed with an honorific. A monarch may be addressed as His/Her Majesty, a president as Your Excellency or Mr/Madam President, a minister or secretary of state as "Your Excellency" or Mr/Madam Secretary, etc. A prime minister may be addressed as "the Honorable". In the UK, members of the Privy Council are addressed as "the Right Honourable ...". A member of Parliament or other legislative body may have particular honorifics. A member of a Senate, for example, may be addressed as "Senator". The etiquette varies and most countries have protocol specifying the honorifics to be used for its state, judicial, military and other officeholders.

Former military officers are sometimes addressed by their last military rank, such as "Captain", "Colonel", "General", etc. This is generally adopted only by those officers who served in at least the rank equivalent of Major. In the U.S., veterans of all ranks who have served during wartime and were honorably discharged may 'bear the title' of the highest rank held, as codified in law,10 USC 772e, both officer and enlisted.

In areas of East Africa, where the Bantu language Swahili is spoken, mzee is frequently used for an elder to denote respect by younger speakers. It is used in direct conversation and used in referring to someone in the third person.

While Swahili is Bantu, it is highly influenced by Arabic and Hindi languages and cultures. Babu is a prefix honorific used with elders, similar to mzee, but may also mean grandfather. Other prefix honorifics are ndugu, for brother or a close male friend, and dada for a sister or close female friend; thus, John and Jane would be Ndugu John and Dada Jane, respectively.

Amongst the Akan ethnic groups of West Africa's Ghana, the word nana is used as an aristocratic pre-nominal by chiefs and elders alike.

In Yorubaland, also in West Africa, the word ogbeni is used as a synonym for the English "mister". Titled members of the region's aristocracy are therefore called oloye instead, this being the word for "chief". Although the former of the two titles is only used by men, aristocrats of either gender are addressed using the latter of them.

Ancient Rome

Some honorifics used by Ancient Romans, such as Augustus, turned into titles over time.

China

During the ancient and imperial periods, Chinese honorifics varied greatly based on one's social status, but with the end of Imperial China, many of these distinctions fell out of colloquial use due to the May Fourth Movement. Some honorifics remain in use today, especially in formal writings for the court and business settings.

India