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The Honorable


The Honorable

"Hon." redirects here. For other uses, see Hon (disambiguation).

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.


International diplomacy

In international diplomatic relations, representatives of foreign states are often addressed as "The Honourable". Deputy chiefs of mission, chargés d'affaires, consuls-general and consuls are always given the style. All heads of consular posts, whether they are honorary or career postholders, are accorded the title according to the State Department of the United States.[1] However, ambassadors and high commissioners are never given the style, with the title "Your Excellency" being used. UNESCO, an organisation of the United Nations, confers the title of honourable mention on persons for outstanding performance for the promotion of quality education and literacy. UNESCO conferred Confucius Award and title of honourable upon Dr. Allah Bakhsh Malik, a Pakistani educationist in recognition of leadership role for the promotion of Education and Skill Development for less-affluent and disenfranchised sections of society, on September 8, 2011. —


In Australia, all ministers in Commonwealth and state governments and the government of 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.

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, e.g. 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 for the duration of their terms. This practice is still followed in New South Wales, Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania. In Victoria, the practice was abolished in 2003.

In May 2013, the style was given royal approval to be granted to Governors-General of Australia, both retrospectively and for current and future holders of the office.[5]

The Caribbean


Members of the Order of the Caribbean Community are entitled to be styled The Honourable for life.[6]


In Barbados, Members of Parliament of Barbados carry two main titles: Persons in the Barbados House of Assembly are styled The Honourable, while members of the Senate of Barbados are styled Senator. Persons appointed to Her Majesty's Privy Council in London are styled "The Right Honourable". Persons accorded with the Order of Barbados are styled Sir (male), or Dame (female) as a Knight of St. Andrew; or The Honourable as Companion of Honour. Persons made a National Hero or heroine of Barbados are style "The Right Excellent".

Puerto Rico

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, judges and property registrars.


Further information: Style (manner of address)

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

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

  • The Speaker of the Canadian House of Commons
  • Judges of superior courts and the Tax Court of Canada
  • Members of provincial and territorial executive councils (premiers, cabinet ministers and deputy premiers)
  • Speakers of provincial and territorial legislatures
  • Government House Leaders of provinces and territories
  • Territorial commissioners

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.[7]

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 opposition 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 unless they are privy councillors.[8]

Current and former Governors general, prime ministers, chief justices and certain other eminent persons are entitled to the style The Right Honourable for life (or le/la Très honorable in French).

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'.


A rough equivalent of "The Honourable" in its Anglophone use would be The High-Well Born, which is used for all members of properly noble families not having any higher style. Usage on bourgeois dignitaries became common in the 19th century, though it has faded since and was always of doubtful correctness.

A literally translated "The Honorable", ehrwürdig or Ehrwürden, is used for Catholic clergy and religious, with the exception of priests and abbottesses (who are Hochwürden, Reverend). A subdeacon is "Very Honourable" (Wohlehrwürden), a deacon is "Right Honourable" (Hochehrwürden).

Hong Kong

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


In the Republic of India, Vice President, Judges of the Higher Judiciary, i.e., both Supreme Court & High Court, are referred as 'Honourable Mr./Mrs. Justice'. The Members of Parliament of both the Upper and the Lower houses are referred to as Honourable Member. Members of the executive, who are also the members of the Legislative such as the Prime Minister are referred to as The Honourable Member/Minister. Usually the abbreviation The Hon. is used before their names. Mayors are addressable with the same decorum.

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 Jamaica, those awarded the Order of Jamaica (considered Jamaica's equivalent to a British knighthood) are styled "The Honourable".


In Macau, the prefix "The Honourable" is used occasionally for the following people:

or a prime minister


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".


All members of the House of Representatives of Malta are entitled to this prefix.

New Zealand

The style "The Honourable" was first granted in 1854 for use by members of the Executive Council, the Speaker of the Legislative Council, the Members of the Legislative Council, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.[9]

In addition to the standard Commonwealth usage, the Speaker of the House of Representatives was entitled to be referred to as The Honourable until 2010, when it was announced that sitting and future Governors-General, Prime Ministers, Chief Justices, and Speakers of the House of Representatives would be entitled to be referred to as The Right Honourable.[10]

The Governor-General was entitled to use the style "the Honourable" upon assuming the office and held it for life from 2006[11] until the changes in 2010. Former Governors-General were also entitled to the style from 2006 if they did not hold the title already or were a Privy Counsellor.[12]

New Zealand office holders who are "Honourable" ex-officio can be granted the style for life as a courtesy when they vacate the office, all honours and awards are published in The New Zealand Gazette.


In the Philippines, the style is usually used to give distinction to any elected official ranging from the smallest political unit, the barangay, to the Congress of the Philippines, which consists of a Senate and House of Representatives. For example, a Kagawad (member of a local legislative council) named Juan de la Cruz will be referred to as The Honorable Juan de la Cruz. In written form, the style may be shortened to "Hon." (as in Hon. Juan de la Cruz).

The Vice-President and the Justices of the Trial Courts are also addressed in this style. Meanwhile, the President of the Philippines is always given the style His/Her Excellency.


In Pakistan, the judicial officers are addressed as honourable while presiding over in the courts of law. It is a norm to address judges of superior judiciary as honourabe judges. Diplomats are addressed as Your Excellency. The head of state and Prime Minister is addressed her/his excellency.

UNESCO an agency of United Nations conferred Confucius Award, title of honourable upon a Pakistani educationist, Dr. Allah Bakhsh Malik in recognition of leadership role and meritorious services, for the promotion of education, adult literacy and vocational skill development. He is the only Pakistani conferred the honorific title of honourable by United Nations's UNESCO.

Private organisations

Private organisations 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 and the Commonwealth


In the United Kingdom, all sons and daughters of viscounts and barons (including the holders of life peerages, but not judicial "Lords" who are not peers) 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's or mother's subsidiary titles). The style is only a courtesy, however, and on legal documents they may be 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 people 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.

  • Judges of the High Court and other superior courts in the Commonwealth (if the judge is a knight, the style Sir John Smith is used socially instead of The Honourable Mr Justice Smith.);
  • Members of Commonwealth executive councils and the Canadian Privy Council (and by extension, cabinets);
  • Members of Commonwealth legislative councils (or senates) where the legislature is bicameral; and
  • Certain representatives of the Sovereign, e.g. Lieutenant-Governors of Canadian provinces.

Several corporate entities have been awarded the style by Royal Warrant, for example:


The style The Honourable is usually used in addressing envelopes (where it is usually abbreviated to The Hon) and formally elsewhere, in which case Mr or Esquire are omitted. In speech, however, The Honourable John Smith is usually referred to simply as Mr John Smith.

In the House of Commons of the United Kingdom, as in other lower houses of Parliament and other legislatures, members refer to each other as honourable members etc. out of courtesy, but they are not entitled to the style in writing. When members are Queen's counsel they will instead be referred to as the honourable and learned member, with serving or ex-serving members of the military (formerly less of a rarity than today) being styled the honourable and gallant member.

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

United States

In the United States, the prefix the Honorable has been used to formally address various officials at the federal and state levels, perhaps most notably judges. Modifiers such as the Right Honorable or the Most Honorable are not used. The "t" in "the" is not capitalized in the middle of a sentence.[13]

Under the rules of etiquette, the President, Vice President, members of both houses of Congress, governors of states, members of state legislatures, and mayors are accorded the title.[14] Persons appointed to office nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate are accorded the title; this includes members of the Cabinet and sub-Cabinet (such as deputies and undersecretaries),[15][14] administrators, members, and commissioners of the various independent agencies, councils, commissions, and boards,[15] federal judges, ambassadors of the United States,[16] U.S. Attorneys,[17] U.S. Marshals, [18] the Librarian of Congress and Public Printer of the United States,[15] and presidentially appointed inspectors general.[19]

High state officials other than governor, such as lieutenant governor[20] and state attorneys general[21] are also accorded the title of "the Honorable." State court judges, justices and justices of the peace, like federal judges, are also are accorded "the Honorable" title.[22] Practices vary on whether appointed state official, such as the heads of state Cabinet-level departments are given the title.[23][14] There is also no universal rule for whether city officials other than the mayor (such as city council, board of aldermen and board of selectmen members) are given the title; local practices vary.[24]

Members of the White House staff at the rank of special assistant, deputy assistant, assistant to the president, and Counselor to the President are accorded the title,[15] although one writer disagrees.[25]

Officials nominated to high office but not yet confirmed (e.g., commissioner-designate) and interim or acting officials are generally not accorded the title "the Honorable," except for Cabinet-level officials.[26]

Opinions vary on whether the term "the Honorable" is accorded for life.[14] Emily Post's etiquette manual says that the title should be used only during one's terms of office, but various other protocol authorities, such as Mary Jane McCaffree, Robert Hickey, and Pauline Innis follow the rule of "once an Honorable, always an Honorable."[14][23]

Some estimate that in the United States there are nearly 100,000 people who are accorded the "Honorable" title, many in the Washington, D.C. region.[14]

Although the civilian officials, including the service secretaries (e.g., Secretary of the Army) of the Pentagon receive the title,[15] military officers do not receive this title, although they are confirmed by the Senate.

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 with most Kentucky colonels preferring to be referred to and addressed as colonel.

The style The Honorable is used on envelopes when referring to an individual in the third person. It is not used to refer to oneself.

A spouse of someone with the style of The Honorable receives no additional style, unless personally entitled to the style in his or her own right by virtue of holding, or having held, one of the offices mentioned above.

See also


External links


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