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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The prefix The Honourable or The Honorable (abbreviated to "The Hon." or formerly "The Hon'ble") is a style used before the names of certain classes of persons. It is considered an Honorific styling.





In Australia, all ministers in Commonwealth and state governments and the government of the Northern Territory are entitled to be styled The Honourable. The Australian Capital Territory does not have an Executive Council (the Commonwealth Minister for Territories exercises that role) and so its ministers are not entitled to the style. Except in New South Wales, South Australia and Tasmania, the title is retained for life because it recognises that their appointment to the relevant executive council (when they first become a minister) is an appointment for life, and the person technically remains "an executive councillor-on-call". In New South Wales, South Australia and Tasmania the Premier can advise the Queen to grant former ministers the style for life. In the Northern Territory, the Chief Minister can request the Administrator to make a recommendation to the Governor General who in turn makes a recommendation to the Queen of Australia. A minimum 5 years' service as a Member of the Executive Council and or as a Presiding Officer is a prerequisite. All such awards are published in the Commonwealth Government Gazette. The presiding officers of the parliaments of the Commonwealth, the states and the Northern Territory are also styled The Honourable, but normally only during their tenure of office. Special permission is sometimes given for a former presiding officer to retain the style after leaving the office as is the case in the Northern Territory.

Former Australian members of the Commonwealth Executive Council previously appointed members of the Privy Council are still entitled to be styled The Right Honourable. It has, however, fallen out of practice to appoint Australians to the Privy Council.

Justices of the High Court of Australia, the Federal Court, the Family Court, and the Supreme Courts of all States and Territories are entitled to be styled The Honourable while in office and on retirement. The same is not extended to County or District Court Judges, Magistrates or members of Tribunals in any jurisdiction.

The style "The Honourable" is not acquired through membership of either the House of Representatives or the Senate (see Parliament of Australia). A member or senator may have the style if they have acquired it separately, eg. by being a current or former minister. During proceedings within the chambers, forms such as "The honourable Member for ...", "The honourable the Leader of the Opposition", or "My honourable colleague" are used. This is a merely a parliamentary courtesy and does not imply any right to the style.

Traditionally, members of the Legislative Councils of the states were also styled The Honourable. This practice is still followed in New South Wales, Western Australia and South Australia and Tasmania. In Victoria, the practice was abolished in 2003.

The Caribbean

Members of the Order of the Caribbean Community are entitled to be styled The Honourable for life.[1]

In Puerto Rico, much like the continental United States, the term "Honorable" (in Spanish) is used, but not required by law, to address Puerto Rican governors as well as city mayors, members of state and municipal legislatures and judges.

Members of The Barbados House of Assembly are styled The Honourable.


In Canada, the following people are entitled to the style The Honourable (or l'honorable in French) for life:

In addition, some people are entitled to the style while in office only:

Derivatives include:

  • The Honourable Mr / Madam Justice — Justices of superior courts.
  • The Honourable Judge — Judges of provincial courts and formerly judges of district or county courts. [2]

It is usual for Speakers of the House of Commons to be made Privy Councillors, in which case they keep the style for life, and provincial Premiers and federal oposition leaders are sometimes also made Privy Councillors.

Members of the Canadian House of Commons and of provincial legislatures refer to each other as "honourable members" (or l'honorable député) but are not entitled to have The Honourable as a prefix in front of their name.

The Governor General of Canada, the Prime Minister of Canada, the Chief Justice of Canada and certain other eminent persons are entitled to the style The Right Honourable for life (or le/la Très honorable in French).

see Styles of Address (Canada) and Style (manner of address)

The Congo

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the prefix 'Honorable' or 'Hon.' is used for members of both chambers of the Parliament of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Informally, senators are sometimes given the higher title of 'Venerable'.

Hong Kong

In Hong Kong, the prefix "The Honourable" is used for the following people:

Isle of Man

In the Isle of Man, the style The Honourable (often abbreviated to Hon.) is used to refer to a Minister while holding office.


In Italy the members of both houses of parliament have right to the prefix Onorevole by law. But in fact it is only used for members of the Chamber of Deputies, since a member of the Senate is usually called Senatore (Senator).


In Malaysia, an elected Member of Parliament or State Legislative Assemblyman will be entitled to be referred to as "Yang Berhormat", which is literally "The Honourable". It could also be refer to someone that have a higher position in an organisation such as the manager, chairman and the ceo . Like in a meeting or presentation the greetings will starts which they will honour their leader and refer them as "The Honourable" . Same goes to the instituition of school , higher education and others especially in the government sector.

New Zealand

In addition to the standard Commonwealth usage, the Speaker of the House of Representatives is entitled to be referred to as The Honourable.

New Zealand office holders who are "Honourable" ex-officio are usually personally granted the style for life as a courtesy when they vacate the office.

Governors-General use the style upon assuming the office and hold the title for life here after. Former living Governors-General were retroactively appointed if they were not already a holder or a British Privy Councillor.

The Philippines

In the Philippines, the style is usually used to give distinction to an elected official from the smallest political unit (the barangay) to the Philippine Senate. In example, a Kagawad (a member of a legislative council) named Juan de la Cruz will be styled the Honorable Juan de la Cruz. A Philippine Senator is also styled with the Honorable(abbreviated as "Hon."), i.e., Hon. Juan Ponce Enrile. Moreover, Judges from the Trial Courts are given the style.

The President of the Philippines, as well as the Vice-President, is usually given the style His/her Excellency.

Private organizations

Private organizations or religious movements sometimes style a leader or founder as The Honourable; e.g. "The Honourable Elijah Muhammad".

Sri Lanka

In Sri Lanka, the following people are entitled to the style The Honourable :

United Kingdom


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. (The daughters and younger sons of dukes and marquesses and the daughters of earls have the higher style of Lord or Lady before their first names, and the eldest sons of dukes, marquesses and earls are known by one of their father or mother's subsidiary titles.) The style is only a courtesy, however, and on legal documents they are described as, for instance, John Smith, Esq., commonly called The Honourable John Smith. As the wives of sons of peers share the styles of their husbands, the wives of the sons of viscounts and barons and the younger sons of earls are styled, for example, The Hon. Mrs John Smith.

Some persons are entitled to the prefix by virtue of their offices. Rules exist that allow certain individuals to keep the prefix The Honourable even after retirement.

Many corporate entities are also entitled to the style, for example:


The style The Honourable is always written on envelopes (where it is usually abbreviated to The Hon), and formally elsewhere, in which case the style Mr or Esq. is omitted. In speech, however, The Honourable John Smith is referred to simply as Mr John Smith.

In the British House of Commons, as in other lower houses of Parliament and other legislatures, members refer to each other as Honourable Members etc. out of courtesy, despite the fact that they are not entitled to the style in writing. Where a member is a barrister, he will instead be referred to as the learned Member with serving members of the military (formerly less of a rarity than today) styled the gallant Member.

Where a person is entitled to the prefix The Right Honourable, they will use this higher style instead of The Honourable.

United States

In the United States, the prefix The Honorable has, since 1945, been used to formally address outgoing U.S. Presidents, especially during the inauguration of the new President following a presidential election. The term is particularly linked in the U.S. to a retiring two-term President, since such an individual has made a truly remarkable achievement: holding the nation's highest executive office for the longest time possible. The last four times in U.S. history featuring an outgoing two-term President, the title "The Honorable" has been used officially to address Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1961, Ronald Reagan in 1989, Bill Clinton in 2001 and George W. Bush in 2009.

As of 2009, "The Honorable" has also been used to address any living current or former U.S. Presidents. This includes Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama.

The federal usage is expressed in the United States Department of State may also (informally) refer to these other people, although such a title is by no means official.

Federal usage also notes that the style of "Honorable" is used for life. This would include persons convicted of crimes after leaving office, resigned under a cloud, or who were removed from office (i.e. impeached or recalled). [3]

In the Commonwealth of Kentucky, commissioned Kentucky Colonels are considered members of the Governor's Staff and his honorary aides-de-camp, and as such are entitled to the style of "Honorable" as indicated on their commission certificates. The commission and letters patent granted by the Governor and Secretary of State bestowing the title of Kentucky Colonel refers to the honoree as "Honorable First Name Last Name". However, this style is rarely used, most Kentucky Colonels preferring to be referred to and addressed as "Colonel".

The style "The Honorable," or the abbreviation of "Hon." is used on envelopes when referring to the individual in the third person, i.e. in a formal introduction. It generally is not used with an additional style or title, such as Dr. or The Reverend, though it can be used with post-nominal letters (e.g., "The Hon. John H. Sununu, Ph.D"). Other modifiers ("The Right Honorable," "The Most Honorable") are not used in American practice.

A spouse of someone with the style of "The Honorable" receives no additional style, unless personally entitled to the style. The wife of former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge, Michele Ridge, does not receive the style, even though her husband has held various offices (governor, U.S. Representative, Secretary of Homeland Security, and assistant to the president) that would grant the style for life under all usages. The wife of current Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, Marjorie Rendell, is a federal judge, appointed years prior to Rendell's election as Governor, and is styled "The Honorable."

Aside from the prefix "The Honorable," the spoken form of address, "Your Honor," is used when addressing judges, justices, and magistrates (who are addressed as such when presiding in court). When speaking of a judge in this manner in the third person, "Your Honor" becomes "His/Her Honor."

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ Styles of Address (Canada)
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

HONOURABLE (Fr. honorable, from Lat. honorabilis, worthy of honour), a style or title of honour common to the United Kingdom, the British colonies and the United States of America. The terms honorabilis and honorabilitas were in use in the middle ages rather as a form of politeness than as a stereotyped style; and though Gibbon assimilates the late Roman title of clarissimus to "honourable," as applied to the lowest of the three grades of rank in the imperial hierarchy, the analogy was good even in his day only in so far as both styles were applicable to those who belonged to the less exalted ranks of the titled classes, for the title "honourable" was not definitely confined to certain classes until later. As a formal address it is found frequently in the Paston Letters (15th century), but used loosely and interchangeable with other styles; thus John, Viscount Beaumont, is addressed alternately as "my worshipful and reverent Lord" (ii. 88, ed. 1904) and as "my right honorabull Lord" (ii. 118), while John Paston, a plain esquire, is "my right honurabyll maister." More than two centuries later Selden, in his Titles of Honor (1672), does not include "honourable" among the courtesy titles given to the children of peers. The style was, in fact, used extremely loosely till well on into the 18th century. Thus we find in the registers of Westminster Abbey records of the burial (in 1710) of "The Hon. George Churchill, Esq.," who was only a son of Sir Winston Churchill, and of "The Hon. Sir William Godolphin," who had only been created a baronet; in 1717 was buried "The Hon. Colonel Henry Cornwall," who was only an esquire and the son of one; in 1743 a rear-admiral was buried as "The Hon. Sir John Jennings, Kt."; in 1746 "The Hon. Major-General Lowther," whose father was only a Dublin merchant; and finally, in 1747, "The Hon. LieutenantGeneral Guest," who is said to have begun life as an hostler. From this time onwards the style of "honourable" tended to become more narrowly applied; but the whole matter is full of obscurity and contradictions. The baronets, for instance, allege that they were usually styled "the honourable" until the end of the 18th century, and in 1835 they petitioned for the style as a prefix to their names. The Heralds' College officially reported on the petition (31st of October 1835) that the evidence did not prove the right of baronets to the style, and that its use "has been no more warranted by authority than when the same style has been applied to Field Officers in the Army and others." They added that "the style of the Honourable is given to the Judges and to the Barons of the Exchequer with others because by the Decree of 10 James I., for settling the place and precedence of the Baronets, the Judges and Barons of the Exchequer were declared to have place and precedence before the younger sons of Viscounts and Barons." This seems to make the style a consequence of the precedence; yet from the examples above given it is clear that it was applied, e.g. in the case of field officers, where no question of precedence arose. It is not, indeed, until 1874 that we have any evidence of an authoritative limitation of the title. In this year the wives of lords of appeal, life peers, were granted style and precedence as baronesses; but it was provided that their children were not "to assume or use the prefix of Honourable, or to be entitled to the style, rank or precedence of the children of a Baron." In 1898, however, this was revoked, and it was ordained "that such children shall have and enjoy on all occasions the style and title enjoyed by the children of hereditary Barons together with the rank and precedence, &c." By these acts of the Crown the prefix of "honourable" would seem to have been restricted and stereotyped as a definite title of honour; yet in legal documents the sons of peers are still styled merely "esquire," with the addition of "commonly called, &c." This latter fact points to the time when the prefix "honourable" was a mark of deference paid by others rather than a style assumed by right, and relics of this doubtless survive in the United Kingdom in the conventions by which an "honourable" does not use the title on his visiting card and is not announced as such.

As to the actual use and social significance of the style, the practice in the United Kingdom differs considerably from that in the colonies or in the United States. In the United Kingdom marquesses are "most honourable"; earls, viscounts and barons "right honourable," a style also borne by all privy councilors, including the lord mayor of London and lard provost of Edinburgh during office. The title of "honourable" is in the United Kingdom, except by special licence of the Crown (e.g. in the case of retired colonial or Indian officials), mainly confined to the sons and daughters of peers, and is *the common style of the younger sons of earls and of the children of viscounts, barons and legal life peers. The eldest sons of dukes, marquesses and earls bear "by courtesy" their father's second title, the younger sons of dukes and marquesses having the courtesy title Lord prefixed to their Christian name; while the daughters of dukes, marquesses and earls are styled Lady. The title of "honourable" is also given to all present or past maids of honour, and to the judges of the high court being lords justices or lords of appeal (who are "right honourable"). A county court judge is, however, "his honour." The epithet is also applied to the House of Commons as a body and to individual members during debate ("the honourable member for X."). Certain other corporate bodies have, by tradition or grant, the right to bear the style; e.g. the Honourable Irish Society, the Inns of Court (Honourable Society of the Inner Temple, &c.) and the Honourable Artillery Company; the East India Company also had the prefix "honourable." The style may not be assumed by corporate bodies at will, as was proved in the case of the Society of Baronets, whose original style of "Honourable" Society was dropped by command.

In the British colonies the title "honourable" is given to members of the executive and legislative bodies, to judges, &c., during their term of service. It is sometimes retained by royal licence after a certain number of years' service.

In the United States of America the title is very widespread, being commonly given to any one who holds or has held any office of importance in state or nation, more particularly to members of Congress or of the state legislatures, judges, justices, and certain other judicial and executive officials. Popular amenity even sometimes extends the title to holders of quite humble government appointments, and consoles with it the defeated candidates for a post. See also the article Precedence.

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