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Sir is a formal honorific address in English for men, derived from Sire in the High Middle Ages. Both are derived from the old French "Sieur" (Lord), brought to England by the French-speaking Normans, and which now exist in French only as part of "Monsieur", with the equivalent "My Lord" in English. Traditionally, as governed by law and custom, Sir is used for men who are knights and belong to certain orders of chivalry, as well as later applied to baronets and other offices. As the female equivalent for knighthood is damehood, the suo jure female equivalent term is typically Dame. The wife of a knight or baronet tends to be addressed as Lady, although a few exceptions and interchanges of these uses exist.

Additionally, since the late modern period, Sir has been used as a respectful way to address a man of superior social status or military rank. Equivalent terms of address for women are Madam (shortened to Ma'am), in addition to social honorifics such as Mrs, Ms or Miss.

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Honorific

Honorific

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.

English language

English language

English is a West Germanic language in the Indo-European language family, with its earliest forms spoken by the inhabitants of early medieval England. It is named after the Angles, one of the ancient Germanic peoples that migrated to the island of Great Britain. Existing on a dialect continuum with Scots and then most closely related to the Low German and Frisian languages, English is genealogically Germanic. However, its vocabulary also shows major influences from French and Latin, plus some grammar and a small amount of core vocabulary influenced by Old Norse. Speakers of English are called Anglophones.

High Middle Ages

High Middle Ages

The High Middle Ages, or high medieval period, was the period of European history that lasted from AD 1000 to 1300. The High Middle Ages were preceded by the Early Middle Ages and were followed by the Late Middle Ages, which ended around AD 1500.

Knight

Knight

A knight is a person granted an honorary title of knighthood by a head of state or representative for service to the monarch, the church or the country, especially in a military capacity. Knighthood finds origins in the Greek hippeis and hoplite (ἱππεῖς) and Roman eques and centurion of classical antiquity.

Baronet

Baronet

A baronet or the female equivalent, a baronetess, is the holder of a baronetcy, a hereditary title awarded by the British Crown. The title of baronet is mentioned as early as the 14th century, however, in its current usage it was created by James I of England in 1611 as a means of raising funds for the crown.

Female

Female

An organism's sex is female if it produces the ovum, the type of gamete that fuses with the male gamete during sexual reproduction.

Dame

Dame

Dame is an honorific title and the feminine form of address for the honour of damehood in many Christian chivalric orders, as well as the British honours system and those of several other Commonwealth realms, such as Australia and New Zealand, with the masculine form of address being Sir. It is the female equivalent for knighthood, which is traditionally granted to males. Dame is also style used by baronetesses in their own right.

Lady

Lady

The word lady is a term for a girl or woman, with various connotations. Once used to describe only women of a high social class or status, the equivalent of lord, now it may refer to any adult woman, as gentleman can be used for men. Informal use is sometimes euphemistic or, in American slang, condescending in direct address.

Late modern period

Late modern period

In many periodizations of human history, the late modern period followed the early modern period. It began approximately around the year 1800 and depending on the author either ended with the beginning of contemporary history after World War II, or includes that period up to the present day. Notable historical events in the late 18th century that marked the transition from the early modern period to the late modern period include the American Revolution (1765–1791), the French Revolution (1789–1799), and the beginning of the Industrial Revolution around 1760. It took all of human history up to 1804 for the world's population to reach 1 billion; the next billion came just over a century later, in 1927.

Military rank

Military rank

Military ranks are a system of hierarchical relationships, within armed forces, police, intelligence agencies or other institutions organized along military lines. The military rank system defines dominance, authority, and responsibility in a military hierarchy. It incorporates the principles of exercising power and authority into the military chain of command—the succession of commanders superior to subordinates through which command is exercised. The military chain of command constructs an important component for organized collective action.

Madam

Madam

Madam, or madame, is a polite and formal form of address for women in the English language, often contracted to ma'am. The term derives from the French madame, from "ma dame" meaning "my lady". In French, the abbreviation is "Mme" or "Mme" and the plural is mesdames. These terms ultimately derive from the Latin domina, meaning "mistress."

Miss

Miss

Miss is an English language honorific typically used for a girl, for an unmarried woman, or for a married woman retaining her maiden name. Originating in the 17th century, it is a contraction of mistress. Its counterparts are Mrs., used for a married women who has taken her husband's name, and Ms., which can be used for married or unmarried women.

Etymology

Sir derives from the honorific title sire; sire developed alongside the word seigneur, also used to refer to a feudal lord. Both derived from the Vulgar Latin senior, sire comes from the nominative case declension senior and seigneur, the accusative case declension seniōrem.[1]

The form 'Sir' is first documented in English in 1297, as the title of honour of a knight, and latterly a baronet, being a variant of sire, which was already used in English since at least c.1205 (after 139 years of Norman rule) as a title placed before a name and denoting knighthood, and to address the (male) Sovereign since c.1225, with additional general senses of 'father, male parent' is from c.1250, and 'important elderly man' from 1362.

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Sire

Sire

Sire is an archaic respectful form of address to reigning kings in Europe. In French and other languages it is less archaic and relatively more current. In Belgium, the king is addressed as "Sire..." in both Dutch and French.

Vulgar Latin

Vulgar Latin

Vulgar Latin, also known as Popular or Colloquial Latin, is the range of non-formal registers of Latin spoken from the Late Roman Republic onward. Through time, Vulgar Latin evolved into numerous Romance languages. Its literary counterpart was a form of either Classical Latin or Late Latin, depending on the time period.

Nominative case

Nominative case

In grammar, the nominative (case), subjective case, straight case or upright case is one of the grammatical cases of a noun or other part of speech, which generally marks the subject of a verb, or a predicative nominal or adjective, as opposed to its object, or other verb arguments. Generally, the noun "that is doing something" is in the nominative, and the nominative is often the form listed in dictionaries.

Accusative case

Accusative case

The accusative case of a noun is the grammatical case used to receive the direct object of a transitive verb.

English language

English language

English is a West Germanic language in the Indo-European language family, with its earliest forms spoken by the inhabitants of early medieval England. It is named after the Angles, one of the ancient Germanic peoples that migrated to the island of Great Britain. Existing on a dialect continuum with Scots and then most closely related to the Low German and Frisian languages, English is genealogically Germanic. However, its vocabulary also shows major influences from French and Latin, plus some grammar and a small amount of core vocabulary influenced by Old Norse. Speakers of English are called Anglophones.

Baronet

Baronet

A baronet or the female equivalent, a baronetess, is the holder of a baronetcy, a hereditary title awarded by the British Crown. The title of baronet is mentioned as early as the 14th century, however, in its current usage it was created by James I of England in 1611 as a means of raising funds for the crown.

Entitlement to formal honorific address by region

Commonwealth of Nations

Sir Thomas Troubridge, 1st Baronet, whose entitlement to use 'Sir' derived from his position as baronet
Sir Thomas Troubridge, 1st Baronet, whose entitlement to use 'Sir' derived from his position as baronet

The prefix is used with the holder's given name or full name, but never with the surname alone. For example, whilst Sir Alexander and Sir Alexander Fleming would be correct, Sir Fleming would not.[2]

Emperor Taishō, a Stranger Knight of the Order of the Garter, who, as a foreign national, was not entitled to use the prefix 'Sir' (which as a sovereign monarch he would not have used in any case) but was permitted to post-nominally use KG
Emperor Taishō, a Stranger Knight of the Order of the Garter, who, as a foreign national, was not entitled to use the prefix 'Sir' (which as a sovereign monarch he would not have used in any case) but was permitted to post-nominally use KG

Today, in the UK and in certain Commonwealth realms, a number of men are entitled to the prefix of 'Sir', including knights bachelor, knights of the orders of chivalry and baronets; although foreign nationals can be awarded honorary knighthoods. Honorary knights do not bear the prefix "Sir" nor do they receive an accolade; instead they use the associated post-nominal letters.[3]

Church of England clergy who receive knighthoods do also not receive an accolade and therefore do not use the title 'Sir', but instead refer to their knighthood using post-nominal letters.[2] For example, the Reverend John Polkinghorne, KBE would never be referred to as Sir John Polkinghorne. Clergy of other denominations may use different conventions.[2]

Only citizens of Commonwealth realms may receive substantive knighthoods and have the privilege of the accompanying style. In general, only knighthoods in dynastic orders – those orders in the personal gift of the Sovereign and Head of the Commonwealth (the Order of the Garter, the Order of the Thistle and the knighthoods in the Royal Victorian Order) – are recognised across the Commonwealth realms, along with their accompanying styles.

British knighthoods (in the Orders of the Bath, St. Michael and St. George, and in the Order of the British Empire, along with Knights Bachelor) were known as imperial honours during the existence of the British Empire. Those honours continued to be conferred as substantive, not honorary, awards by most Commonwealth realms into the 1990s. Since then, though former imperial honours are still awarded by certain Commonwealth realms, many of them have discontinued grants of British honours as they have developed their own honours systems, some of which include knighthoods. Today, British honours are only substantive for British nationals so recognised, including dual nationals,[4] and for nationals of those realms which have retained them as part of their honours systems.

Dual national recipients of British knighthoods who hold British citizenship, such as academic and immunologist Sir John Bell, are entitled to the style of Sir as their knighthoods are substantive. This may not necessarily be the case for dual nationals who are not British citizens and who instead hold citizenship of another Commonwealth realm. In 1974, Lynden Pindling, the Prime Minister of the Bahamas, recommended dual Bahamian-American citizen Sidney Poitier for an honorary knighthood as an honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE), an imperial honour, as the Bahamas did not have its own honours system at the time. Although Poitier, as a Bahamian citizen by descent, was eligible for a substantive ('ordinary') award of the KBE, the Bahamian government preferred the knighthood to be honorary as Poitier was permanently residing in the United States.[5] Knighthoods in the gift of the government of a Commonwealth realm only permit the bearer to use his style within that country or as its official representative, provided he is a national of that country; knighthoods granted by other realms may be considered foreign honours. For instance, Anthony Bailey was reprimanded by Buckingham Palace and the British government in 2016 for asserting that an honorary Antiguan knighthood (which was revoked in 2017) allowed him the style of 'Sir' in the UK.[6]

The equivalent for a female who holds a knighthood or baronetcy in her own right is 'Dame', and follows the same usage customs as 'Sir'.[7] Although this form was previously also used for the wives of knights and baronets, it is now customary to refer to them as 'Lady', followed by their surname; they are never addressed using their full names. For example, while Lady Fiennes is correct, Lady Virginia and Lady Virginia Fiennes are not.[8][9] The widows of knights retain the style of wives of knights,[9] however widows of baronets are either referred to as 'dowager', or use their forename before their courtesy style. For example, the widow of Sir Thomas Herbert Cochrane Troubridge, 4th Baronet, would either be known as Dowager Lady Troubridge or Laura, Lady Troubridge.[10]

Barbados

Prior to becoming a republic in November 2021, Barbados awarded the title Knight or Dame of St. Andrew within the Order of Barbados. This practice has now been discontinued, though individuals who received a knighthood or damehood when the country was still a Commonwealth realm may continue to use the titles "Sir" and "Dame" within their lifetimes.

Commonwealth realms

United Kingdom
Antigua and Barbuda
Australia
  • Knight of the Order of Australia (AK; for male Australian subjects only; discontinued 1986–2014, reintroduced briefly in 2014, again discontinued in 2015)[13][14]
Grenada
  • Knight Commander, Knight Grand Cross, or Knight Grand Collar of the Order of the Nation in the Order of Grenada (KCNG/GCNG/KN)
New Zealand
Saint Lucia

India

Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma was the last surviving Knight Grand Commander of the Order of the Star of India.
Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma was the last surviving Knight Grand Commander of the Order of the Star of India.

As part of the consolidation of the crown colony of India, the Order of the Star of India was established in 1861 to reward prominent British and Indian civil servants, military officers and prominent Indians associated with the Indian Empire. The Order of the Indian Empire was established in 1878 as a junior-level order to accompany the Order of the Star of India, and to recognise long service.

From 1861 to 1866, the Order of the Star of India had a single class of Knights (KSI), who were entitled to the style of 'Sir'. In 1866, the order was reclassified into three divisions: Knights Grand Commander (GCSI), Knights Commander (KCSI) and Companions (CSI); holders of the upper two degrees could use the title 'Sir'. From its creation in 1878 until 1887, the Order of the Indian Empire had a single class, Companion (CIE), which did not entitle the recipient to a style of knighthood.

In 1887, two higher divisions, Knight Grand Commander (GCIE) and Knight Commander (KCIE) were created, which entitled holders of those ranks to the style of 'Sir'. The last creations of knights of either order were made on 15 August 1947 upon Indian independence. All British honours and their accompanying styles were officially made obsolete in India when the Dominion of India became a modern republic in the Commonwealth of Nations in 1950, followed by Islamic Republic of Pakistan in 1956.

The Order of the Star of India became dormant in the Commonwealth realms from February 2009, and the Order of the Indian Empire after August 2010, when the last knights of the orders died.

Nigeria

In Nigeria, holders of religious honours like the Knighthood of St. Gregory make use of the word as a pre-nominal honorific in much the same way as it is used for secular purposes in Britain and the Philippines. Wives of such individuals also typically assume the title of Lady.

Non-Commonwealth Countries

Holy See

Knights and Dames of papal orders may elect the "Sir" or "Dame" prefix with post-nominal letters, subject to the laws and conventions of the country they are in. The Pope, the sovereign of the Catholic Church and Vatican City, delegates the awarding orders of knighthood to bishops and Grand Masters. Their precedence is as follows:

For Example, Sir Burton P. C. Hall, KSS, KHS would be the correct style for lay knights.

Lieutenants of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre, are styled as "Your Excellency", such as H.E. Dame Trudy Comeau, DC*HS.

Catholic clergy who are invested as Knight Chaplains may use post-nominal letters, but must retain their clerical titles, like Rev. Robert Skeris, KCHS.

Knights and Dames of papal orders are not allowed to use the prefix "Sir" or "Dame" in the United Kingdom, although they may use post-nominal letters. Not allowing the prefix is because the use of foreign titles is not permitted by the British Crown without a Royal Licence, and as a matter of policy (currently based on a Royal Warrant of 27 April 1932), a Royal Licence to bear any foreign title is never granted. On the other hand, allowing the post-nominal letters would be explained by the highest and lowest dignities being universal, a king was recognized as king everywhere, and also a knight: "though a Knight receive his Dignity of a Foreign Prince, he is so to be stiled in all Legal Proceedings within England .. and Knights in all Foreign Countries have ever place and precedency according to their Seniority of being Knighted" [16]

Ireland

Established in 1783 and primarily awarded to men associated with the Kingdom of Ireland, Knights of the Order of St. Patrick were entitled to the style of 'Sir'. Regular creation of new knights of the order ended in 1921 upon the formation of the Irish Free State. With the death of the last knight in 1974, the Order became dormant.

Philippines

As a privilege of the members of the Order of the Knights of Rizal, the prefix "Sir" is attached to their forenames while wives of Knights add the prefix "Lady" to their first names.[17] These apply to both spoken and written forms of address. The Knights of Rizal is the sole order of knighthood in the Philippines and a constituted[18] Order of Merit recognized by the Orders, decorations, and medals of the Philippines.[19] The prefix is appended with the relevant post-nominal according to their rank at the end of their names: Knight of Rizal (KR), Knight Officer of Rizal (KOR), Knight Commander of Rizal (KCR), Knight Grand Officer of Rizal (KGOR) and Knight Grand Cross of Rizal (KGCR). Among the notable members of the Knights of Rizal include King Juan Carlos I of Spain who was conferred a Knight Grand Cross of Rizal on 11 February 1998.[20]

Combinations with other titles and styles

Military

In the case of a military officer who is also a knight, the appropriate form of address puts the professional military rank first, then the correct manner of address for the individual, then his name. Examples include:

Academic

This is also the case with academic ranks and titles, such as 'Professor'. For example, Patrick Bateson was both a professor[note 2] and a knight bachelor; his correct title would be Professor Sir Patrick Bateson. However, the title of 'Doctor' (Dr.) is not used in combination with 'Sir', with the knighthood taking precedence. Knighted doctors are addressed as knights, though they may still use any post-nominal letters associated with their degrees.

Peers and nobility

Peers who have been knighted are neither styled as 'Sir' nor addressed as such in the formal sense of the style, as their titles of nobility take precedence. The same principle applies for the male heir apparent to a dukedom, marquessate or earldom, and for his eldest legitimate male heir if there are additional subsidiary peerages, as well as for the legitimate male issue of a duke or a marquess, who are styled 'Lord' followed by their first name. For instance, diplomat Lord Nicholas Gordon-Lennox, KCMG, KCVO, who was a younger son of the Duke of Richmond, continued to be styled as 'Lord Nicholas' following his knighthood in 1986, not 'Lord Sir Nicholas'. Other male heirs of an earl who lack courtesy titles, and the male heirs of a viscount or baron, do however use the style of 'Sir' if knighted, the style following that of 'The Hon'.

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Alexander Fleming

Alexander Fleming

Sir Alexander Fleming was a Scottish physician and microbiologist, best known for discovering the world's first broadly effective antibiotic substance, which he named penicillin. His discovery in 1928 of what was later named benzylpenicillin from the mould Penicillium rubens is described as the "single greatest victory ever achieved over disease." For this discovery, he shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1945 with Howard Florey and Ernst Boris Chain.

Emperor Taishō

Emperor Taishō

Emperor Taishō , also known by his personal name Yoshihito (嘉仁), was the 123rd Emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession, and the second ruler of the Empire of Japan from 30 July 1912 until his death in 1926.

Order of the Garter

Order of the Garter

The Most Noble Order of the Garter is an order of chivalry founded by Edward III of England in 1348. It is the most senior order of knighthood in the British honours system, outranked in precedence only by the Victoria Cross and the George Cross. The Order of the Garter is dedicated to the image and arms of Saint George, England's patron saint.

Commonwealth realm

Commonwealth realm

A Commonwealth realm is a sovereign state in the Commonwealth of Nations whose monarch and head of state is shared among the other realms. Each realm functions as an independent state, equal with the other realms and nations of the Commonwealth. King Charles III succeeded his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, as monarch of each Commonwealth realm following her death on 8 September 2022. He simultaneously became Head of the Commonwealth.

Accolade

Accolade

The accolade was the central act in the rite of passage ceremonies conferring knighthood in the Middle Ages. From about 1852, the term accolade was used much more generally to mean "praise" or "award" or "honour".

Church of England

Church of England

The Church of England is the established Christian church in England. It traces its history to the Christian church recorded as existing in the Roman province of Britain by the 3rd century and to the 6th-century Gregorian mission to Kent led by Augustine of Canterbury. Its adherents are called Anglicans.

John Polkinghorne

John Polkinghorne

John Charlton Polkinghorne was an English theoretical physicist, theologian, and Anglican priest. A prominent and leading voice explaining the relationship between science and religion, he was professor of mathematical physics at the University of Cambridge from 1968 to 1979, when he resigned his chair to study for the priesthood, becoming an ordained Anglican priest in 1982. He served as the president of Queens' College, Cambridge, from 1988 until 1996.

Order of the British Empire

Order of the British Empire

The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is a British order of chivalry, rewarding contributions to the arts and sciences, work with charitable and welfare organisations, and public service outside the civil service. It was established on 4 June 1917 by King George V and comprises five classes across both civil and military divisions, the most senior two of which make the recipient either a knight if male or dame if female. There is also the related British Empire Medal, whose recipients are affiliated with, but not members of, the order.

British Empire

British Empire

The British Empire was composed of the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates, and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom and its predecessor states. It began with the overseas possessions and trading posts established by England between the late 16th and early 18th centuries. At its height it was the largest empire in history and, for over a century, was the foremost global power. By 1913, the British Empire held sway over 412 million people, 23 per cent of the world population at the time, and by 1920, it covered 35.5 million km2 (13.7 million sq mi), 24 per cent of the Earth's total land area. As a result, its constitutional, legal, linguistic, and cultural legacy is widespread. At the peak of its power, it was described as "the empire on which the sun never sets", as the Sun was always shining on at least one of its territories.

Multiple citizenship

Multiple citizenship

Multiple/dual citizenship is a legal status in which a person is concurrently regarded as a national or citizen of more than one country under the laws of those countries. Conceptually, citizenship is focused on the internal political life of the country and nationality is a matter of international dealings. There is no international convention which determines the nationality or citizenship status of a person. This is defined exclusively by national laws, which can vary and conflict with each other. Multiple citizenship arises because different countries use different, and not necessarily mutually exclusive, criteria for citizenship. Colloquially, people may "hold" multiple citizenship but, technically, each nation makes a claim that a particular person is considered its national.

John Bell (physician)

John Bell (physician)

Sir John Irving Bell is a Canadian-British immunologist and geneticist. From 2006 to 2011, he was President of the United Kingdom's Academy of Medical Sciences, and since 2002 he has held the Regius Chair of Medicine at the University of Oxford. He was since 2006 Chairman of the Office for Strategic Coordination of Health Research (OSCHR) but in 2020 became a normal member. Bell was selected to the Vaccine Taskforce sometime before 1 July 2020. Bell is also on the board of directors of the SOE quango Genomics England.

Lynden Pindling

Lynden Pindling

Sir Lynden Oscar Pindling, NH, KCMG, PC, JP was a Bahamian politician who is regarded as the "Father of the Nation" of the Bahamas, having led it to majority rule on 10 January 1967 and to independence on 10 July 1973. He served as the first black premier of the Colony of the Bahama Islands from 1967 to 1969 and as Prime Minister of the Bahamas from 1969 to 1992. He was leader of the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) from 1956 to 1997 when he resigned from public life under scandal.

Educational, military and other usage

Education system

'Sir', along with 'Miss' for women, is commonly used in the British school system to address teachers and other members of staff. Usage of these terms is considered a mark of respect, and can be dated back to the 16th century. The practice may have been an attempt to reinforce the authority of teachers from lower social classes among classes of largely upper class students.[23] Jennifer Coates, emeritus professor of English language and linguistics at Roehampton University, has criticised the use of the title for male teachers, saying that "'Sir' is a knight. There weren't women knights, but 'Miss' is ridiculous: it doesn't match 'Sir' at all. It's just one of the names you can call an unmarried woman", and that "It's a depressing example of how women are given low status and men, no matter how young or new in the job they are, are given high status".[23] This view is not unchallenged, however. The chief executive of the Brook Learning Trust, Debbie Coslett, said "... they call me 'Miss', I'm fine with that. They're showing respect by giving me a title rather than 'hey' or 'oi, you' or whatever", and dismissed the male/female issue as "just the way the English language works".[23]

In the Southern United States, the term 'sir' is often used to address someone in a position of authority or respect, and is commonly used in schools and universities by students to address their teachers and professors. Whereas the British and Commonwealth female equivalent is Miss, students will often refer to female teachers as Ma'am.[24]

In the Northeast United States, particularly New England, there remains influence of both the British and French traditions as noted above; in general parlance, teachers, authority-figures, and so forth, are referred to by a title of respect such as 'Sir' for males and 'Miss, Ms, or Mrs' for females: 'Miss' for unmarried, younger females; 'Ms' for senior, elder, or ranking females that may or may not be married (see article Ms/Mrs/Miss); and 'Mrs' for married or widowed females.

Military and police

If not specifically using their rank or title, 'sir' is used in the United States Armed Forces to address a male commissioned officer. Lower-ranking and non-commissioned officers, such as corporals or sergeants, are addressed using their ranks,[25] though in some of the branches (to be precise, in the Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard), "sir" can also be used to address a drill instructor although he is an NCO.

In the British Armed Forces, male commissioned officers and warrant officers are addressed as 'sir' by all ranks junior to them, male warrant officers are addressed as Mr by commissioned officers.[26]

In the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), only commissioned officers are addressed as 'sir'; NCOs and constables are addressed by their rank. Male British police officers of the rank of Inspector or above are addressed as 'Sir' (women of inspecting rank are called Ma'am).

In the Hong Kong Police Force, male superiors are respectfully known by their surname followed by 'sir'. For example, Inspector Wong would be addressed or referred to as 'Wong-sir'. Male police officers are sometimes known colloquially as "Ah-sir" (阿Sir) to the wider public.[27]

Service industry

The term 'Sir' is also used frequently in the customer service industry, by employees to refer to customers, and sometimes vice versa. In the United States, it is much more common in certain areas (even when addressing male peers or men considerably younger). For example, a 1980 study showed that 80% of service interactions in the South were accompanied by 'Sir' or Ma'am, in comparison to the Northern United States, where 'Sir' was only used 25% of the time.[24]

'Sir', in conjunction with 'Ma'am' or 'Madam', is also commonly used in the Philippines and South Asia, not only to address customers and vice versa, but also to address people of a higher social rank or age.[28][29][30][31]

Media

'Sir' is used as gender-neutral term to address superior ranking officers in the series Star Trek and The Orville.[32]

Discover more about Educational, military and other usage related topics

Southern United States

Southern United States

The Southern United States is a geographic and cultural region of the United States of America. It is between the Atlantic Ocean and the Western United States, with the Midwestern and Northeastern United States to its north and the Gulf of Mexico and Mexico to its south.

New England

New England

New England is a region comprising six states in the Northeastern United States: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. It is bordered by the state of New York to the west and by the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick to the northeast and Quebec to the north. The Atlantic Ocean is to the east and southeast, and Long Island Sound is to the southwest. Boston is New England's largest city, as well as the capital of Massachusetts. Greater Boston is the largest metropolitan area, with nearly a third of New England's population; this area includes Worcester, Massachusetts, Manchester, New Hampshire, and Providence, Rhode Island.

United States Armed Forces

United States Armed Forces

The United States Armed Forces are the military forces of the United States. The armed forces consists of six service branches: the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Space Force, and Coast Guard. All six armed services are among the eight uniformed services of the United States.

Non-commissioned officer

Non-commissioned officer

A non-commissioned officer (NCO) is a military officer who has not pursued a commission. Non-commissioned officers usually earn their position of authority by promotion through the enlisted ranks. In contrast, commissioned officers usually enter directly from a military academy, officer training corps (OTC) or reserve officer training corps (ROTC), or officer candidate school (OCS) or officer training school (OTS), after receiving a post-secondary degree.

British Armed Forces

British Armed Forces

The British Armed Forces, also known as His Majesty's Armed Forces, are the military forces responsible for the defence of the United Kingdom, its Overseas Territories and the Crown Dependencies. They also promote the UK's wider interests, support international peacekeeping efforts and provide humanitarian aid.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Royal Canadian Mounted Police

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police, commonly known in English as the Mounties is the federal and national police service of Canada. As police services are the constitutional responsibility of provinces and territories of Canada, the RCMP's primary responsibility is the enforcement of federal criminal law, and sworn members of the RCMP have jurisdiction as a peace officer in all provinces and territories of Canada. However, the service also provides police services under contract to eight of Canada's provinces, all three of Canada's territories, more than 150 municipalities, and 600 Indigenous communities. In addition to enforcing federal legislation and delivering local police services under contract, the RCMP is responsible for border integrity; overseeing Canadian peacekeeping missions involving police; managing the Canadian Firearms Program, which licenses and registers firearms and their owners; and the Canadian Police College, which provides police training to Canadian and international police services.

Inspector

Inspector

Inspector, also police inspector or inspector of police, is a police rank. The rank or position varies in seniority depending on the organization that uses it.

Hong Kong Police Force

Hong Kong Police Force

The Hong Kong Police Force (HKPF) is the primary law enforcement, investigative agency, and largest disciplined service under the Security Bureau of Hong Kong. The Royal Hong Kong Police Force (RHKPF) reverted to its former name after the transfer of sovereignty of Hong Kong from the United Kingdom to People's Republic of China in 1997.

Philippines

Philippines

The Philippines, officially the Republic of the Philippines, is an archipelagic country in Southeast Asia. It is situated in the western Pacific Ocean and consists of around 7,641 islands that are broadly categorized under three main geographical divisions from north to south: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. The Philippines is bounded by the South China Sea to the west, the Philippine Sea to the east, and the Celebes Sea to the southwest. It shares maritime borders with Taiwan to the north, Japan to the northeast, Palau to the east and southeast, Indonesia to the south, Malaysia to the southwest, Vietnam to the west, and China to the northwest. The Philippines covers an area of 343,448 km2 (132,606 sq mi) and, as of 2021, it had a population of around 109 million people, making it the world's thirteenth-most-populous country. The Philippines has diverse ethnicities and cultures throughout its islands. Manila is the country's capital, while the largest city is Quezon City; both lie within the urban area of Metro Manila.

South Asia

South Asia

South Asia is the southern subregion of Asia, which is defined in both geographical and ethnic-cultural terms. As commonly conceptualised, South Asia consists of the countries of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives, with some neighbouring territories, such as Afghanistan, also sometimes included.

Star Trek

Star Trek

Star Trek is an American science fiction media franchise created by Gene Roddenberry, which began with the eponymous 1960s television series and quickly became a worldwide pop-culture phenomenon. The franchise has expanded into various films, television series, video games, novels, and comic books. With an estimated $10.6 billion in revenue, it is one of the most recognizable and highest-grossing media franchises of all time.

The Orville

The Orville

The Orville is an American science fiction comedy-drama television series created by Seth MacFarlane, who also stars as series protagonist Ed Mercer, an officer in the Planetary Union's line of exploratory space vessels in the 25th century. The show is inspired primarily by the original Star Trek and its Next Generation successor, both of which it heavily parodies and pays homage to. It follows the crew of the starship USS Orville on their episodic adventures, as well as a serialised overarching story that develops over the series.

Source: "Sir", Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, (2023, March 14th), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sir.

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Notes
  1. ^ a b c In the personal gift of the Sovereign and Head of the Commonwealth.
  2. ^ Note a difference in usage between British and US usage. A Professor in the UK is only used for the highest academic rank. See a summary here.
References
  1. ^ Ayres-Bennet, Wendy (1996). "The 'heyday' of Old French (French in the 12th and 13th centuries)". A History of the French Language Through Texts. London: Routledge. ISBN 0415099994.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Knight". Debretts. n.d. Archived from the original on 5 February 2014. Retrieved 2 February 2015.
  3. ^ "Honorary Knighthood". Debretts. n.d. Archived from the original on 19 October 2016. Retrieved 10 October 2017.
  4. ^ "No. 61598". The London Gazette. 1 June 2016. p. 12364.
  5. ^ Award of Honorary Knight Commander of the British Empire (KBE) to Sidney Poitier, actor and joint United States and Bahamian citizen (Report). UK National Archives. 1974. Archived from the original on 5 February 2020. Retrieved 7 January 2022.
  6. ^ "Something of the Knight...", Private Eye, no, 1420, 10 June 2016
  7. ^ "Baronetess". Debretts. n.d. Archived from the original on 4 February 2014. Retrieved 2 February 2014.
  8. ^ "Family of a Baronet". Debretts. n.d. Archived from the original on 15 March 2015. Retrieved 2 February 2015.
  9. ^ a b "Wife of a Knight". Debretts. n.d. Archived from the original on 21 February 2015. Retrieved 2 February 2015.
  10. ^ "Wife of a Baronet". Debretts. n.d. Archived from the original on 16 March 2015. Retrieved 2 February 2015.
  11. ^ Royal Household. "The Queen and the UK > Queen and Honours > Royal Victorian Order". Queen's Printer. Archived from the original on 19 July 2009. Retrieved 17 February 2019.
  12. ^ "Baronet". Debretts. n.d. Archived from the original on 19 February 2015. Retrieved 3 February 2015.
  13. ^ "Knight /Dame of the Order of Australia". Australian Government. n.d. Archived from the original on 17 July 2014. Retrieved 3 February 2014.
  14. ^ "Australia PM Malcolm Turnbull drops knights and dames from honours system". BBC. 1 November 2015. Archived from the original on 2 November 2015. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  15. ^ "New Zealand State Honours - The New Zealand Order of Merit". New Zealand Defence Force. n.d. Archived from the original on 14 January 2015. Retrieved 3 February 2015.
  16. ^ Velde, Francois. "Foreign Titles in the UK". Heraldica.org. Archived from the original on 5 March 2021. Retrieved 24 November 2020.
  17. ^ "Who is entitled to the prefix of 'Sir'?". R.A.U. Juchter van Bergen Quast, LLM (in Dutch). 25 October 2015. Archived from the original on 1 April 2019. Retrieved 6 December 2017.
  18. ^ "Republic Act No. 646 | GOVPH". Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines. Archived from the original on 6 December 2017. Retrieved 6 December 2017.
  19. ^ "Speech of President Aquino at the International Assembly and Conference of Rizal, February 17, 2011 | GOVPH". Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines. Archived from the original on 6 December 2017. Retrieved 6 December 2017.
  20. ^ "Entitlement to the prefix of 'sir'". 4 March 2015. Archived from the original on 6 December 2017. Retrieved 6 December 2017.
  21. ^ Royal Navy Flag Officers, 1904-1945: Admiral of the Fleet Sir Bruce Fraser Archived 3 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine, admirals.org.uk
  22. ^ Australian Dictionary of Biography: Field Marshal Sir Thomas Albert Blamey Archived 28 July 2008 at the Wayback Machine, adb.online.anu.edu.au
  23. ^ a b c Paton, Graeme (13 May 2014). "Stop calling teachers 'Miss' or 'Sir', pupils are told". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 20 March 2018. Retrieved 4 February 2014.
  24. ^ a b Hudley, Anne; Mallinson, Christine (2011). "A Regional and Cultural Variety". Understanding English Language Variation in U.S. Schools. NY, USA: Teachers College Press. ISBN 9780807751480.
  25. ^ Rush, Robert S. (2010). NCO Guide (9th ed.). PA, USA: Stackpole Book. p. 328. ISBN 9780811736145.
  26. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions". RAF. n.d. Archived from the original on 2 May 2010. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
  27. ^ Guldin, Gregory Eliyu (1992). Urbanizing China. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 171.
  28. ^ Holtzapple, Katarina (3 March 2019). "A Conversation about "Ma'am/Sir"". The Gazelle. Archived from the original on 9 October 2020. Retrieved 8 October 2020.
  29. ^ Orante, Bea (14 August 2015). "Netizens react: Is it time to let go of 'Ma'am, Sir'?". Rappler. Archived from the original on 26 September 2021. Retrieved 8 October 2020.
  30. ^ Estrada-Claudio, Sylvia. "Don't call me Madam". Rappler. Archived from the original on 8 November 2020. Retrieved 8 October 2020.
  31. ^ Martin, Bob (9 July 2007). "Philippine Society can be very formal". Live In The Philippines. Archived from the original on 12 October 2020. Retrieved 8 October 2020.
  32. ^ Rahman, Ray (10 September 2017). "The Orville: Seth MacFarlane discusses sci-fi, spaceships, and politics". Entertainment. Archived from the original on 17 April 2022. Retrieved 17 April 2022.
External links
  • Sir – Online Etymology Dictionary

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